City Football Group invests in football related businesses around the world, connected by the common aim to increase participation and engagement with football.
Esports is a rapidly growing industry, with 5 billion games of EA Sports FIFA played worldwide each year. 65% of MLS fans name FIFA as a major driver of their interest in football, and 50% of FIFA players in the US say their interest in the professional game increased having played online.
In July 2016, City Football Group announced its first investment in competitive FIFA with the signing of a player for Manchester City, becoming only the second Premier League Club to sign an esports player. Today, Manchester City is represented by former Playstation 4 World Champion Kai ‘deto’ Wollin, and 2017’s FUT Championship Series Final runner-up Shaun ‘Shellzz’ Springette. Manchester City eSports extended its reach into China in June 2018, with the establishment of a three-man team competing in FIFA Online, a PC-based variant of the EA Sports console hit.
New York City marked an MLS first with the signing of Chris ‘didychrislito’ Holly in April 2017. Four months later, Melbourne City signed its first player, also the first in the Hyundai A-League, in Marcus 'MCFC Marcus' Gomes. The clubs have hosted a number of esports tournaments for fans, and continue to work with their esports players to create and distribute content, whilst supporting the player's participation in national and international tournaments.
GOALS SOCCER CENTRES
City Football Group and Goals Soccer Centres announced a joint venture in July 2017. Goals are one of the largest and most popular operators of dedicated 5-a-side pitches in the United States, and the partnership will see the creation of recreational soccer facilities in the US and Canada, starting with two existing sites in California.
In January 2019, City Football Group was announced as the anchor investor in Sapphire Sports, a US-based sport venture capital fund which, in addition to CFG, comprises owners and investors from across major US sports leagues; NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS as well as from related industries.