Italian soccer club Associazione Sportiva Roma have made their entry to esports with a newly announced FIFA esports team and have partnered with Fnatic to launch the venture. Both the soccer club and Fnatic announced the news on their respective websites Tuesday.
The FIFA roster includes Aman “Aman” Seddiqi, Sam “Poacher” Carmody and Nicoló “Insa” Mirra while Colin Johnson will act as the team's manager.
The partnership will see Fnatic "manage the team and offer support for training, events and provide all esports-related logistical knowledge to nurture them," according to Fnatic's release. AS Roma wrote that the partnership will "give the club the best chance of success in the eSports arena."
Founded in 1927, AS Roma play in the Italian league Serie A, which represents the highest competitive level of Italian soccer. Team president Jim Pallotta said in the team's release that the continued growth in esports was a factor in their decision to form the team and enter the sector.
“With the tremendous growth of eSports and continued attention placed on games like FIFA, we’ve partnered with Fnatic, the world’s leading eSports organisation, to launch our eSports team," he said. "This joint venture will enable us to start building a strong legacy in eSports and engage our fans in exciting new ways.”
Aman, who hails from Atlanta, said that the signing was a big moment in his esports career.
“Roma is a huge team to represent,” said Aman. “It makes me proud to wear the shirt, and it's an honour to be the first American to be signed by a European club. It's incredibly humbling, and I can't wait to bring more trophies to Roma. I'm here to win.”
The announcement continues two trends. European soccer clubs have overtly shown interest in esports for over a year, and while some have entered more traditional esports titles — like FC Schalke's entry to League of Legends — many have chosen to enter the scene first with FIFA players.
However, the arrangement with Fnatic marks a more recent phenomenon: traditional sports franchises from all leagues have increasingly sought to enter esports with experts already on hand, to avoid potential pitfalls.
For example, when the Philadelphia 76ers purchased Team Dignitas and Apex, they kept the leadership to continue to run the newly-merged Dignitas. The Houston Rockets added Sebastian Park, formerly of Team Archon, to their front office as director of esports development, with the sole purpose of planning out the team's approach to esports.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.