Fuchs: I want to bring through the next eFootball stars

  • Christian Fuchs’ eSports team among the top 16 at the FIFA eClub World Cup

  • "I'd never have thought that I'd end up watching Twitch for eight hours at a weekend"

  • The former Austria international speaks to FIFA.com about his eFootball team 'NoFuchsGiven'

Christian Fuchs was one of the first professional footballers in the world to set up his own eFootball team. His side, 'NoFuchsGiven', only just failed to make it beyond the group stage at the FIFA eClub World Cup 2019, which was held in London from 9-10 February this year.

Over 12 gamers, including a female player and the 2016 FIFA world champion Mohamad Al-Bacha, are contracted to the club based in England.

We chatted to the former Austria international about his eSports team in the build-up to the tournament.

FIFA.com: What do you think of your team's season so far? Christian Fuchs: Initially I didn't know what to expect. Like a lot of people, I grew up with FIFA and thought it was great to play as the stars I idolised on my video console, but before NFG eSports I didn't know much about the competitive scene and I was interested to see how it developed. We've got a fantastic team and characters, as well as a good mix of experienced and young players.

How important is the FIFA eWorld Cup to you and your players? Everyone does their best and wants to achieve their aims. I'm very confident in our players and I'm sure they'll all have a good season. For example, Al-Bacha is gradually getting back to the level he was at in 2016 when he became world champion.

How did you come to found an eFootball team? One day I saw my son watching something on Twitch and I began to take an interest in it, especially when I realised that my son was a fan of the person streaming the game. After that I did some research of my own, met the right people and thought about whether it would be something for the future – which it is. The market is growing and growing. Sometimes I make decisions very quickly and here we are in London six months later at the FIFA eClub World Cup. When I get an idea in my head then I invest all of my passion into making it a reality. And today we are one of the biggest – if not the biggest - eFootball teams in the world.

How did you decide which players to bring in? I wanted us to be an international group right from the start, which is why we signed players from India, Singapore, England and Denmark. I want to bring through the next eFootball stars because there are already so many good players, which is why we're focusing on the next generation. A lot of our players made noticeable progress after just one or two months with us.

How do you plan on achieving that? We've got coaches alongside them and, for example, they watch matches together in order to learn from past mistakes, just like in real football. Little things can add up and we want to eliminate mistakes as much as possible. On top of that, it's important to know how to deal with the pressure at events. I'm probably more nervous than my players when I watch the games. I'd never have thought that I'd end up watching Twitch for up to eight hours at a weekend. We also want to develop their personalities and we pay attention to what they post on their social media channels.

How would you compare real-life football to the virtual game? I'm asked that question quite a lot and I always try to answer it differently. It's difficult to draw comparisons because both sports are obviously very similar in some respects and there's a connection. There will always be new stars and therefore there'll always be a future for both the virtual sport and the real one.

Do your team-mates know about your eSports team and do you think more footballers will invest in the scene in future? Yes, my team-mates at Leicester know about my eSports team, although they're not really sure what to make of it – just like me six or seven months ago. I think the more the eSports scene grows, the more interest there'll be within football. Young players in particular are very interested and I assume the next generation will have an even greater role in eFootball and gaming.

NoFuchsGiven eSports is one of the first teams to sign a female professional FIFA player. Do you think we will see more of that in the future? I hope so. Just as the women's game is growing in real football, so too in eFootball. It's a natural process and more and more female players will come through and play at a competitive level. During this project I made a decision to hire not only male players, because female players give you a completely different kind of input. We've got a Whatsapp group with all the players and we tease each other a lot in there – and she definitely dominates the group.

What are your future plans for the team? Right now we're focusing on the current season and after that we'll evaluate how it went. I've already got a few plans for the future that I don't want to share just yet, but things are going in a good direction and I'm looking forward to it.