Soccer stars and clubs are investing millions in esports, as virtual football grows as a spectator sport – and Uefa is launching a virtual Champions League.

As the fifth Russian goal struck the Saudi net in the opening game of last summer’s World Cup, the dreams of Saudi Arabian football supporters were crushed before the competition had really started. A few months later, though, fans were glued to screens once again, witnessing a Saudi player do the unthinkable and lift the trophy. This time they were watching a YouTube stream, and their star player was a gamer named “MSdossary”.

Beating 20 million other players of Fifa 18, Electronic Arts’ wildly popular officially licensed football video game, Mossad “MSDossary” Aldossary was crowned the Fifa eWorld Cup champion, winning $250,000 (around £190,000) for his efforts. He has become the player to watch, an armchair Mbappé – and as football stars from Arsenal’s Mesut Özil to Dutch veteran Ruud Gullit begin investing in esports, he is drawing a lot of attention.

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