England’s popular Premier League is responding to the COVID-19 crisis by entering the realm of esports. The top level of the English football league system will be staging a weeklong FIFA tournament starting on April 21st. Dubbed the ePremier League Invitational Tournament, the contest will find all 20 English Premier League teams participating in a single-elimination tournament.
NBCsports.com will be streaming all of the matches to viewers in the USA. European fans can also watch the games on the EPL website and on Sky Sports’ YouTube and Twitch pages. NBCN will air the semifinals and finals in the USA, as will Skype Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event in the United Kingdom. The ePremier League Invitational Tournament will feature stars such as Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool, and Wolves superstar Diogo Jota.
Nearly all of the world’s pro sports leagues have suspended play in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The ePremier League Invitational Tournament follows in the footsteps of Major League Soccer, which is currently running its five-week long eMLS Tournament Special, which pairs members of 16 MLS teams with a professional esports players. The eMLS Tournament special uses EA Sports’ FIFA 20 Global Series.
Other sports leagues including the NBA and NHL have also held, or are planning to hold, virtual games to appeal to their fans during the real-life lockdown, as have various international racing leagues. Networks including ESPN have expanded their programming schedule to include more esports events to fill the gap.
All ePremier League Invitational Tournament prize money will be donated to #PlayersTogether, which is the Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson’s charity. #PlayersTogether’s mandate is to raise funds for the National Health Service, which is the United Kingdom’s publicly-funded healthcare system.
More information regarding the ePremier League Invitational Tournament can be found at premierleague.com.