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IeSF

IESF – The International Esports Federation (IESF) is a global non-profit organization fostering the collective interests of the esports industry, based in Busan, South Korea. IESF has the statutory aim to serve as the critical global organization representing, coordinating, harmonizing, and administrating esports while preserving the rights and providing a voice to all stakeholders within the esports industry.[1] IESF is, amongst other things, known for the organization of the IESF World Esports Championships, a yearly recurring tournament in which a different game is featured every year. [2]

History

The IESF was founded in 2008 by esports organizations from nine different countries. The following year the first tournaments were organized under its auspices. Currently the IESF has 141 members.[3] Prior to the foundation of the IESF there was no international organization that sought to represent the collective interests of all stakeholders in the esports industry.

Organizational structure governance

The IESF has implemented a governance structure that is somewhat similar to that of the international governing bodies in traditional sports, implementing a board representing the interests of members (e.g., national esports associations) and a general meeting where board members could meet regularly and make decisions collectively. [4] Its members are, alike an international sports governing body, the national esports federations. Moreover, a number of committees have been established, representing the interests of the various stakeholders. An athletes commission has, for example been instated to represent the collective interests of professional esports athletes, through addressing athletes’ concerns, providing feedback and ensuring that players’ perspectives are considered in decision processes.[5]

Though IESF is often regarded as the largest international governing body in esports, it cannot be compared to traditional sport’s governing bodies. Due to the highly decentralized organizational structure of the esports industry, IESF’s authority to regulate the industry remains limited. Therefore, calls remain for the institution of a true global esports governing body,[6]

Rules and regulations

One of the aims of the IESF is to harmonize regulatory standards across the esports industry. One of the areas that IESF has been most successful is the implementation of anti-doping regulations. To that end, IESF has entered into a partnership with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).[7] These regulations apply to all players competing at tournaments and events under the IESF umbrella, with the purpose to protect the health of all Esports players and maintain the integrity of the sport. In case of doping violations, the IESF can impose sanction on individual athletes, organizations or member associations.[8] Besides the anti-doping regulations the Athletes Commission Regulations have been introduced, which regulations define the scope of work and competencies of the Athletes Commission.

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[1] Article B.7 International Esports Federation Statutes (2023).

[2] ‘ IESF World Championships 2022’ (Liquipedia, 2024) < https://liquipedia.net/mobilelegends/IESF/World_Esports_Championships/2022>

[3] ‘Members’ (IESF, 2024) <https://iesf.org/members/>, accessed 28 March 2024

[4] Peng Q and others, ‘Esports Governance: Exploring Stakeholder Dynamics’ (2020) 12 Sustainability 8270

[5] ‘Committees’ (IESF, 2024) https://iesf.org/committees/, accessed 28 March 2024.

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[6] Anna-Greta Nyström and others ‘Current issues of sustainability in esports’  (2022) 1(1) International Journal of Esports <https://www.ijesports.org/article/94/html>. 

[7] ‘Anti Doping’ (IESF, 31 January 2024) <https://iesf.org/anti-doping/> accessed 28 March 2024

[8] Articles 10-13 International Esports Federation Anti-Doping Regulations (2023).

Author

  • Stef van der Veldt

    Stef van der Veldt (26) is attorney at law at Vissers Legal, located in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, and specializes in (online) gaming/gambling and sports law. In this capacity he represents multiple (international) gambling operators active on the Dutch market. In 2021 the Dutch legislator legalized the online gambling market, subject to strict licensing conditions. On a daily basis he liaises with current and aspiring licensees and assists them on a wide array of topics. During his academic studies at Tilburg University (LLB Global Law, LLM International Business Law and LLM Dutch Company Law) he developed an affinity for sports law and the sports industry. As a team player of the sports law department of Vissers Legal he works closely together with multiple stakeholders in the professional sports industry, including athletes, organizations, marketeers etc. The esports industry has caught his particular interest due to the fact that the industry is developing very rapidly, requiring all stakeholders to be versatile and attentive.

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