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 by Graham AshtonOctober 1, 2019 2 min read Credit: Riot Games

League/Tournament Brands:League of Legends European Championship (LEC)Games:League of LegendsPlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

  • Germany’s ministry for work and social has drafted legislation for professional, non-EU esports players to work and reside in the country. 
  • Eligible players must be over 16-years-old, be employed by an esports team organization registered in Germany, and compete in a national or international league.
  • Esports athletes currently enjoy eased travel into Germany, but only for 90 day stays.

The German government has published draft legislation that would allow professional esports athletes from outside the EU to live and compete in the country. Similar to existing sports visas, these regulations would include a permanent residency permit and easier entry into Germany. These measures would go into action next year if the draft is signed into law.

Any esports athlete who wants to apply for these visas would need to be at least 16 years of age, be employed by an esports team organization registered in Germany, and they must compete in a national or international league. Examples of the latter include the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS Europe League (PEL), both of which are played and broadcast out of Berlin, and which require competing team owners to employ players under German subsidiaries.

“Visa regulations are currently blocking the development of professional esports all over Europe. Teams and tournament organizers often have difficulties bringing non-EU-citizens into their respective countries,” said Hans Jagnow, president of the German Esports Federation (ESBD), which has been lobbying for better esports visa regulations in Germany.   

“The plans of the German government are sending a strong signal to other countries and would be providing a best-case-study for other nations to follow up on.” Jagnow also noted that this legislation would help prepare Germany’s esports industry for any potential residency problems Brexit might create for British esports players. 

In one section, the regulation specifically notes that the German organization responsible for esports will be required to confirm whether a player’s visa application fits all requirements. While it did not mention the ESBD by name, Jagnow noted that the federation would accept this task.

While esports players may soon enjoy the same travel benefits as their traditional sports counterparts, competitive videogaming is not recognized in Germany as a sport. The draft visa legislation defines in specific terms what a “professional esports player” is, but it does not identify them as athletes. In August of this year, the German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) released a controversial report that concluded that esports is not an organized sport, and is thus excluded from the tax benefits that would come with such recognition.