Twitch and Soccer: An Unusual Mix
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The world’s most prominent soccer stars are well known for their goals, assists, and mind-blowing tricks on the field. During the COVID-19 pandemic however, soccer has come to an unforeseen halt worldwide. Many of these soccer players, bored and trapped in their luxurious homes, eventually stumbled upon a platform called Twitch.
Twitch is an online streaming service on which people can livestream their gameplay and reaction to videos. Soccer players saw Twitch as an opportunity to have fun with their audience and contribute to COVID-19 relief funds. As a result, many migrated briefly to this platform, and some are still active now.
Sergio Agüero, or Kun Agüero, is an Argentinian forward for Manchester City in the Premier League. He is famous on and off the pitch, with over 400 career goals to his name and 14.7 million followers on Instagram. During lockdown, he began to play video games, the first being FIFA 19. He is known to get very angry at times, often raging at the game and even screaming when he loses a match. As his audience grew, he held livestreams during which he would chat with his viewers and talk about events in his life. Surprisingly, on one stream, he called his friend Lionel Messi, F.C. Barcelona superstar. Agüero also began to play video games with other South American streamers, such as Ocelote, Ibai, and Papo. Some of the other games that he has played were Rocket League, Fall Guys, and Among Us, multiplayer games that have been gaining extreme popularity on Twitch. Agüero has also given back to the Twitch community, gifting Argentinian Twitch streamer Cyroo $500 for his father’s diagnosis of cancer.
Another player who joined the Twitch platform is English soccer player Dele Alli, who plays for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. He is a well-known athlete in England, with 7.2 million followers on Instagram at only the age of 24. Along with his outstanding football background, Alli has embraced the Twitch lifestyle during quarantine despite having never used it before. He encouraged Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to join him in a Soccer Aid event to raise funds for the COVID-19 relief effort. The pair played a few games of the crowd-pleaser Fortnite and earned almost $2 million. Both players were happy to use their online platform to help those affected by the pandemic around the world. In an interview with NBC Sports, De Bruyne explained how he felt using his platform positively: “We are more fortunate than others, so we are able to do more […] and in the end, we were just doing something fun while raising money for charity, so at the end of the day it’s a combination of doing something fun and nice for the community.”
Some players even used the platform on a larger scale by collaborating with other celebrities to raise money for charity. Gamers Without Borders was a fundraising event on Twitch in which gamers competed in tournaments for a $10 million charity prize pool. Donations were made to charities working to stop the spread of COVID-19. Gamers Without Borders involved a FIFA 19 event for some of the biggest names in soccer, such as Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alli, Paulo Dybala, João Félix, and André Silva. Other celebrities, such as rapper Snoop Dogg, singer-songwriter Liam Payne, and comedian and DJ Kerwin Frost, also joined these athletes. Alexander-Arnold was matched up against Payne, who he beat in the first two matches out of three. Dybala also managed a 2-0 sweep against Alli, as did Félix against Silva. Finally, Frost beat Snoop Dogg with a score of 2-1. This event’s $10 million contribution to charity made Gamers Without Borders one of the biggest charity esports events of all time. The fundraiser was an excellent way to raise money to aid those affected by the outbreak, and participating soccer players felt they were helping a good cause by supporting these charities.
Many soccer players used Twitch streaming to engage with their audience and raise money for charities. Because they couldn’t be on the field, they decided to entertain their audience in other ways—with rage and banter. As an avid soccer fan, I was already excited when many of the players whomt I loved started using Twitch. Watching them play games on the field and then play video games at home was a new and enjoyable experience, one that nearly made me forget about the pandemic.