REUTERS: The 2020 European championship may have been pushed back by a year but soccer fans starved of live action will still be able to support their national teams when they face off in the inaugural eEURO 2020 tournament this weekend.
Gamers from all 55 of UEFA's national associations participated in the qualifying rounds and 16 teams will now take part in the final tournament with matches being screened on UEFA's YouTube channel.
They will compete in Konami's eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (PES 20) on the PlayStation 4 video game console.
"This tournament has given efootball enthusiasts the chance to dream of representing their country on the biggest stage and we've witnessed memorable moments over the last few months," UEFA Events SA marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein said in a statement https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/news/newsid=2641995.html.
"We've seen a massive growth in the popularity of efootball over the past few years and eEURO 2020 is giving us the opportunity to connect with new and existing fans of national team football."
With professional soccer suspended in a majority of countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the eEUROs have filled the sporting void and Epstein said over five million people had watched the competition on various UEFA platforms.
The final tournament sees the 16 teams drawn into four groups with the top two advancing to the knockout stages. A total of 100,000 euros (US$109,860) in prize money is up for grabs, with the winners walking away with 40,000 euros.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)