Just before the weekend, the Dutch football club PSV announced the signing of FIFA player Tony Kok to their esports team with much fanfare, including a trailer. It took them just two days to tear up his contract, after certain digital skeletons tumbled out of his online cupboard.
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In a statement on their website, PSV say that Kok and his management failed to share information about Kok’s past online behaviour. The club condemn this behaviour as being so far from their core values that continued collaboration is impossible.
PSV are likely referring to a number of deleted tweets in which Kok makes misogynistic comments – some of these have been recovered and can be viewed on SoccerNews. Dutch site Omroep Brabant highlight one especially notable tweet, which reads “all farmers are gay” – ‘farmers’ is the nickname for PSV fans. Kok is (or was) a fan of Ajax, a rival Dutch club, but it seems he was willing to abandon any according loyalties when PSV approached him with a contract.
PSV say they did a background check but had credited Kok with more honesty than he had. They say their esports ambitions are undiminished, and they’ll learn their lessons about vetting new recruits in future.
Speaking with AD, Kok's management blamed the tweets on his youth – the most recent of those posted on SoccerNews was made in February 2013 – and say their recovery is a "smear campaign."
If you’ve been following esports at all, you’ll have noticed the recent trend of big names in traditional sports entering the electronic scene. Competing in FIFA is an obvious first step for football clubs, one which AS Roma and Manchester City have taken, to name but two.