Last January 30th Michele Barbone has left the presidency of the Italian Sports Dance Federation. As he announced at the beginning of December, in the course of an interview with our newspaper, Barbone did not reapply for the presidency of the FIDS, effectively ending his experience after four years, what has been defined as the ‘Olympic four-year period’, during the which the International Olympic Committee has given the green light for the entry of Sport Dance into the Olympus of the Five Circles *. He was elected to replace him at the helm of the FIDS Enzo Resciniti, with Michele Barbone who was however proclaimed by the assembly, Honorary President of the Italian Dance Sports Federation.
As he himself had anticipated, Michele Barbone remains at the Fids’ disposal, but from now on his main thought will be to bring esports to official recognition by Coni, giving life, within a few weeks, to the first Italian Federation dedicated to Esports. On this front, we expect some news from Michele Barbone’s voice.
But let’s go straight to the focus of the question. For what the Italian export world is today a Federation of Esports is required. Among those who animate this world there are different opinions, there are those who think that a recognition of the Coni is not fundamental, those who think it is not necessary, and those who even think that it can be counterproductive. Instead any attempt to regulate the sector is welcome: because there are many guys who dedicate time to us and energies (many of them minors), because with clear and precise rules you work better everywhere, because greater clarity of what e-sports are can lead to a greater interest from sponsoring companies today hesitant in the face of a phenomenon that, from the outside, it is still difficult to understand what it is.
The reality is that esports are not a unique subject, but they are many things. Starting with regulating even a part of it, if done in compliance with some important criteria, is fundamental. The criteria can easily be summarized in two words: dialogue and respect by all parties involved. Dialogue with the actors of the Italian esports world, active for years and often driven only by passion, and respect for roles, from that of the publisher to that of the player, passing through the respect of those who represent Coni. On the one hand, there are the legitimate interests of those who produce video games; on the other, the interests of those who invest time and money in esports; and then there are the ideas of those who see something new in esports, in many ways not unlike traditional sports, and work to bring these two areas closer together.
We have often talked about the Coni’s thoughts on esports titles. The Italian Olympic Committee (in the same way as the International Olympic Committee), as explained by Barbone, in fact, focuses only on a part of competitive video games, namely those that represent simulations of real sports. A choice that has caused a good part of esports fans to rise up, with reactions that have gone from disapproval to scorn, but a choice that nevertheless appears understandable, at least at the present time. And in particular why it is the first step of a great and historic institution towards a new sector in continuous and rapid evolution.
There is another thing to say: if the Olympic Committee had only wanted to speculate on esports, surely it would have turned a blind eye (or both) by focusing directly on League of Legends, Fortnite and Rainbow Six, which would immediately guarantee extraordinary numbers and monumental services on the media. Objectively this is not the case. The choice was different, and fully explained. In some respects it may be perplexing, but detractors should also consider that it is not a definitive choice. Even today, the Olympics themselves do not include all existing sports, but every four years the committee evaluates new proposals for inclusion, as happened to the breakdance I mentioned above.
That said, beyond the expectations or the positions of the various communities that follow esports titles excluded from the Olympic Committee, the path must continue on the basis of dialogue between the parties involved. Especially Cones and publishers (read Iidea, the association that brings together Italian video game developers) should be able to sit down at a table to find the key to the problem. At the moment, unfortunately, this step seems not to have been there yet, even if the reason is not well understood (Iidea says he has never had contact, while the person in charge of Barbone, Maurizio Miazga, confirms that he tried to contact them without getting a response). Certainly we start from distinctly different but potentially non-conflicting positions. What is certain is that without this step it will be really difficult to think that we will arrive at something concrete and lasting.
* After the approval of the IOC of December 2019, breakdance was in fact included in the Paris 2024 Olympic program as a discipline together with sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing. In Paris these four sports will therefore join the traditional 28.