A joint paper by CDU (The Christian Democrats) and SPD (The Social Democrats), the two largest political parties in Germany, declares eSports should be fully recognized and supported as a sport.
Calling eSports like Starcraft or League of Legends “sports” may confuse some, but in practice it is about the ease of organizing. Being considered “athletes” allows eSport players to apply for athlete visas and earn a salary while training, and recognition as a sport in Germany allows for broader recruitment and training. Hans Jagnow, president of the recently assembled German eSports Association (ESBD) puts it this way (automatically translated):
“The effects for the German eSports scene will be profound.” Recognition as a sport enables the integration into the sports promotion of the countries, the freedom of travel for professional eSportsmen and coaches and the development of a wide amateur structure.”
In the US, players have been considered athletes for the purpose of visa applications since 2013, thanks to the lobbying of Riot Games, developers of League of Legends. Though it is more of an official policy than law, eSports manager Nick Allen called it “groundbreaking” at the time.
The German “coalition paper” is not quite law yet, however. It is an agreement signed by the two largest parties – holding 399 of the 709 seats in the Bundestag – but will not become law until either or both parties actually form a government. Jagnow and the ESBD remain hopeful for “the political, legal and social Recognition as a sport.”