British Esports responds to backlash over Saudi esports partnership

National body also clarifies that the partnership isn’t a commercial agreement

The British Esports Association has responded to backlash following the announcement of its partnership with the Saudi Esports Federation earlier this week.

In a statement shared on social media, the UK’s national body for esports said it was aware the announcement “raised questions and concerns within our community” and wanted to “address these openly and honestly.”

The BEA shared its “belief that every individual, regardless of their gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, should be able to participate and thrive in the esports industry,” adding that “this has not changed and will not change.”

It also clarified that it had not received “any monetary contributions of any kind from [its] partnership with the Saudi Esports Federation,” and this partnership is “not a commercial agreement or sponsorship.”

The BEA added: “These conversations are an essential part of our journey towards progress and understanding. We recognise that there are many cultural differences around the world and we firmly believe in the power of dialogue to overcome these challenges […] we remain committed to transparency and honesty throughout this journey.”

Concerns over the partnership were raised in relation to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights records, which include criminalisation of the LGBTQIA community, discrimination against women, and more.

In its initial announcement, the BEA noted that part of the agreement will see the two organisations host home and away matches, competing at the National Esports Performance Campus in Sunderland and Gamers8 in Saudi Arabia in 2024.

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