Reykjavík City Council approved a grant proposal yesterday to fund sports clubs with e-sports teams. The funding will total some ISK 20 million.
Björn Gíslason, city councilperson, has stated his support of the proposal to Vísir, saying that there are high costs to starting e-sports leagues, and that the government’s assistance is important. “It is my dream that electronic sports are implemented in all sports clubs in Reykjavík, especially with the goal of preventing social isolation and increasing the social skills of children and teenagers,” Björn said.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the proposal has been critiqued by representatives from the Independence Party, with some suggesting that e-sports are not an appropriate or important field for government support.
Notably, Iceland already has a relatively established e-sports gaming scene. Local sports clubs have been home to e-sports teams since 2018.
Iceland has also hosted several important e-sports tournaments, having an advantage especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with relatively relaxed restrictions on gatherings.
Because e-sports are generally at home in high-tech nations, such as South Korea, Japan, China, and also other Nordics such as Denmark and Sweden, the Icelandic e-sports community has tried to make its mark among these peers.
Supporters of the grant for funding also highlight the role that e-sports play in young peoples’ lives. Like traditional sports, they claim, they encourage young people to work together with their peers and form social bonds. Proponents have pointed to the role of e-sports in self discipline, emotional management, responsibility, and other important aspects of childhood development.