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eSports Integrity Coalition launches

Ian Smith appointed as first commissioner

An organisation called the eSports Integrity Coalition has been founded in the UK this morning, with the remit "to address issues of cheating in eSports, with a particular focus on match-fixing and doping." Ian Smith has been elected as the group's first ever commissioner.

"The Coalition will take responsibility for all forms of the process, including drawing up rules, investigating breaches and then prosecuting those who flout them, while also working to prevent such instances arising in the first place," a press release reads, whilst it's unclear exactly what 'prosecuting' means in this context, it's possible that any illegal activities will be passed over the police.

"To this end, ESIC is working with key stakeholders in the esports community, from developers, publishers and players to broadcasters, betting associations and league owners, to create a unified vision for what the rules should be, and how they should be implemented."

So far, the coalition has a fairly broad church of membership, with discussions underway to recruit more. Current members are: ESL, Dreamhack, Intel, Rainbow6, Sportradar, Unikrn, Betway, Plantronics and Sheridans.

Smith himself is an experienced overseer of ethical sporting standards, having worked at "the Professional Cricketers' Association, the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, the UK Anti-Doping Athlete Committee and the International Cricket Council. He's also advised various organisations on integrity, including the Professional Players Association, EUAthletes, Uni World Athletes and more."

“It has been eye-opening and a privilege to work in eSports these past nine months and to have gained sufficient trust within the industry to be appointed the first Integrity Commissioner," said Smith. "I have spent the last 20 years working across a range of sports, involved heavily in the protection of their integrity, so I am looking forward to applying all those insights and experience to the esports ecosystem. There are many challenges ahead, but it is to esports' credit that the industry is taking these steps in anticipation of a foreseeable problem, rather than in reaction to a crisis, which is the route taken by most traditional sports to date.”

In May, another body was established to try and set some standards and regulations in the burgeoning world of eSports. However, that organisation, WESA, came under considerable fire for what was perceived by many to be a fairly self serving structure and a non-representative make up. Since, the group has lost some members and has struggled to find traction.

Just yesterday, the need for more regulation and accountability within and around eSports was made clear by the scandal erupting around the revelation that two prominent YouTube stars and regular CS:GO players were the owners of a betting site which they'd been heavily promoting on their channels.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included members of the coalition which are still in negotiations, as the original press release included them by mistake.

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Dan Pearson