E-sports Team Banned For Porn Sponsorship

Electronic Sports League axes YouPorn-sponsored competitive video gaming team

The future looks bleak for the up-and-coming YP eSports team following a ban by the Electronic Sports League on its participation in league competitions on grounds that it is sponsored by the YouPorn adult entertainment company.
Despite efforts by the team to work around the ban, including an offer to re-brand entirely, and an undertaking to ensure there are no physical links to the XXX provider, the ban has gone into effect, reports the publication GamesBeat.
ESL, which holds tournaments and ongoing pro seasons for a number of games, has enacted a new rule prohibiting any sponsors "…widely known for pornographic … or other adult/mature themes and products," the organisation informed Team YP in an email.
Team YP's assurance that there are no links from its activities to the YouPorn website, and that it does no promoting of adult entertainment at all has reportedly been rejected, along with the team's offer to totally rebrand so that even the initials 'YP' are removed from its team outfits and other brand vehicles.
Among the measures adopted by the team have been precautions to ensure that when the public searches for Team YP on Google they are routed to the safe-for-work Team YP blog as opposed to the adult YouPorn site.
ESL informed the team that it frequently works with game publishers on promotions through tournament contracts, and some of those companies prohibit any participation whatsoever by adult entertainment brands.
The ban will reduce the competitive opportunities of Team YP and probably cause a loss of earnings, GameBeat observes.
Team manager Claire Fisher told the publication:
"I am disappointed that Team YP's growth is being stunted by this decision, not to mention the effect that this will have on our roster of players. While for some, our participation in esports has been controversial, stopping our players from competing because they are sponsored by us, in spite of Team YP operating as a completely SFW [safe for work] brand, clearly separated from any adult content, seems unfair to say the least."
She added that the team had been concerned about problems with a controversial sponsor like YouPorn when it joined ESL, but was accepted without a problem.
"This leaves us confused on why this ruling has been made," she said. "We would love to continue competing with other teams within the ESL while being sponsored. We have always strived not to cause any troubles, and we want to follow the rules properly."
This is not the first difficulty that their sponsor has created for Team YP, GamesBeat notes; last December, publisher Capcom wouldn't permit the team to wear its YP-branded jerseys, compelling it to introduce a censored logo.
YouPorn is the only adult site currently backing a team at ESL events, and Team YP is therefore at this point the only ESL team to be impacted by the new rule.
GamesBeat observes that whilst it acknowledges the rights of ESL and similar companies to decide who they do business with, the Team YP issue may constitute something of an overreach by the League in that it is telling players that they cannot compete in its events if they are paid by the wrong sponsors.
"So this might come across as a couple of corporations attempting to protect their image at the expense of the people who make their competitive games worth watching in the first place," the publication comments.
UPDATE:
GamesBeat has subsequently received a response from the ESL as eSports forum pressure mounted. eSports fans are asking why TeamYP was singled out when other 'adult' companies like gambling sponsors are allowed to back Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams.
In its response, the League noted that it is working on a way to possibly reinstate Team YP, and commented:
"Advertising pornography is not legal in the markets we operate in, and the vast majority of partners we're working with have strict 'no drugs, no alcohol, no pornography' rules that we've contractually taken on board. These aren't new rules but ones that have been in our rulebooks for a long time.
"We have spoken to Team YP manager earlier this year, and in that conversation we've explained the situation and rules in detail and offered to look for potential alternatives in a bigger group. At the same time, we're consulting with our legal teams about this. We will inform the team and the management as soon as we have any updates."
GamesBeat notes that ESL works with major multinational sponsors like Microsoft, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts.

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