At the moment, Esports competitors enjoy the ability to travel into Germany, to compete in events such as the League of Legends European Championships, or the PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds Europe League, but they can only stay for a maximum of 90 days. However, under newly proposed legislation from the German ministry for work and social, that may be about to change.
Under new draft legislation, it is proposed that the German government would allow professional esports athletes that live outside the European Union, would be able to not only compete, but also to live and work in the country.
The proposed visa for esports professionals would be similar to those already offered to sporting professionals and would include a permit for permanent residency within Germany and thus with it, the ability to gain easier accessibility to Germany and the EU.
Should the draft be passed into law, it is expected that these new rules would be in place at some point during 2020.
There are a number of limitations regarding esports athletes who may wish to apply for this prospective new visa. Firstly, the applicant would have to be at least 16 years of age and based in a country from outside of the EU. They would also need to be employed by an esports organisation that is registered within Germany.
Furthermore, the player must be playing on a team that competes either nationally or internationally in esports tournaments.
The new proposal is aimed to smooth the process of allowing teams to employ players from outside the EU to compete in top level competitions.
ESBD VISA CAMPAIGN
The German Esports Federation (ESBD) has been campaigning for better esports visa regulations in Germany for some time now and its president Hans Jagnow explained the benefits of such legislation.
“Visa regulations are currently blocking the development of esports all over Europe,” Jagnow stated.
“Teams and tournament organisers often have difficulty in bringing non-EU citizens into their respective countries.”
“The plans of the German government are sending a strong signal to other countries and would be providing a best-case study for other nations to follow up on.”
An added benefit of the proposed change in legislation would also benefit British esports players who compete in Germany, but who may have their EU status revoked if and when Brexit is resolved at some point in the future.
It is expected that the ESBD would play a key role in vetting applications from non-EU players to help the. German government decide whether a player’s application would fit in the new criteria. Jagnow has indicated that the ESBD would be very willing to play its role in the process.
NO TAX BREAKS
While the new legislation for esports professionals may be welcome, it does not mean that these players will enjoy all the benefits of sports stars resident in Germany. Esports is not recognised as a sport within Germany, or by the German Olympic Sports Federation and as such, esports professionals would not be able to benefit from the tax breaks afforded to professional sports stars afforded a similar status in Germany.