HomeNewsIndustry MovesEsportsGlobal

Tencent-backed Global Esports Federation names Foster as COO

The Global Esports Federation has announced the appointment of Paul J. Foster to the role of chief operating officer.

The GEF, which is based in Singapore and is backed by Chinese technology giant Tencent, initially named Australian Foster as a senior advisor to the board upon its launch in December last year. As chief operating officer, he will be tasked with “establishing a robust leadership team” at the organisation as it continues its push to gain greater recognition within the traditional Olympic movement. 

Foster’s appointment is a clear move in that direction. He worked at the International Olympic Committee for 15 years between 1997 and 2012, culminating in a six-year spell as the body’s head of protocol, events and hospitality, leading teams “at more than 10 Olympic Games across the world”, according to a GEF statement.

He founded his own strategy consultancy firm, PJF Group, headquartered in Los Angeles and London, and has worked with international events including the Baku 2015 European Games. His appointment should help engender yet closer ties between the Olympic and esports worlds. The GEF’s president, Chris Chan, is also the president of Singapore’s National Olympic Council.

On his appointment, Foster said: “The GEF motto, #worldconnected, says it all. Through the power of connectivity, esports offers a platform of inclusive participation, learning, sharing, and enjoyment, regardless of physical distance. I am excited to continue contributing to Global Esports Federation in fulfilling its mission to convene the esports ecosystem and unleash the unlimited possibilities of sports in this Digital Age.”

Around the time of the GEF’s launch last year, the IOC announced that it had agreed upon a “two-speed approach” regarding its esports strategy, reiterating its stance that it will only consider games simulating sports.

Tencent has staked a considerable amount on esports, not only founding its own esports division, Tencent Games, but also acquiring American developer Riot Games, the team behind the hugely popular esports title League of Legends.

Last month, Tencent reported a 25-per-cent year-on-year revenue growth and 52-per-cent profit increase for 2019, but also warned of the potential impact on its finances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit China first and caused a long-term shutdown across the country, from which it is just beginning to emerge.

The GEF has also announced Hideki Okamura as a new board member. Okamura brings extensive experience in the esports and video gaming  space, having previously served as chairman of the Sega Group board.