FIFA opens bidding process for 2018 eWorld Cup media rights

FIFA has invited bids for the media rights to its eSports competitions in 2018, which are expected to attract massive global audiences of young fans.

Football's world governing body announced a partnership with video game company EA Sports in October to stage a "global series'' that will culminate in the FIFA eWorld Cup next summer.

Based on EA Sports' hugely popular FIFA game, qualification for the eWorld Cup began last month and the first televised event, the FUT Champions Cup, is scheduled to take place in Barcelona at the end of January.

Billed as the "biggest football eSports series in history,'' the eWorld Cup will see 32 players compete for the title, a large cash prize and a trip to next year's the Best FIFA Football Awards.

In a statement, FIFA said: "The Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup will feature live qualification events around the world and engage millions of football fans all season long.''

Competitive gaming is already being televised in the United Kingdom by major broadcasters such as the BBC, BT and Sky Sports, but the biggest audiences are online.

Formula One and the NBA are just two examples of major global rights-holders who have recently launched plans to tap into this market, while several Premier League clubs have signed professional gamers to compete in their colours.