(Reuters) - The English Football Association (FA) will launch its first esports national team, known as the eLions, with trials this month to pick players for the FIFA eNations Cup in April and beyond, the governing body said.
The FA and esports company ESL will host online qualifiers before the live finals in London on March 14, with the tournament open to all FIFA 19 players on PS4 or Xbox One, based in England and aged over 16.
"This presents an exciting opportunity for Three Lions fans to help form a new chapter in England's history and add a 29th side to our stable of national teams," FA chief commercial and football development officer Mark Bullingham said http://www.thefa.com/news/2019/mar/01/england-esports-announcement-010319.
"The FA prides itself on being a modern, innovative organisation that strives to engage and inspire all generations of football fans."
The inaugural eNations Cup is an invite-only exhibition event for member associations in which 16 national teams face off in the FIFA 19 Ultimate Team mode.
"The involvement of our member associations with a dedicated nations tournament is another significant step forward for FIFA and the development of eFootball globally," FIFA's chief digital transformation and innovation officer Luis Vicente said.
"After the successful introduction of the FIFA eClub World Cup in recent years and the new team mode, we're looking forward to integrating this nation v nation competition into our eFootball portfolio."
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond)