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Euro 2020 kicks off without footballers

 PARIS, May 23: Euro 2020 may have been swept from the calendar due to coronavirus, but UEFA’s video-game eTournament version kicks off on Saturday regardless.

Instead of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo racing around the pitch, gamers will slug it out, contesting the first ever eEuro from their armchairs.

“The weight of the whole thing is on our shoulders,” said 21-year-old Frenchman Lotfi Derradji, who comes from the Paris suburbs but ‘plays’ for Monaco where he was crowned French champion in 2018.

“We will represent France not on the pitch but on the console, we’re getting huge amounts of support,” said Derradji’s international and club team-mate, Walid Rachid Tebane, who won the individual European title in June 2019.

“We are disappointed that the Euros have been postponed but at the same time it switches more attention on to us,” added Derradji, who has been playing with international French striker – and gaming enthusiast – Antoine Griezmann.

These two bespectacled eSports professionals earn 2,000-6,000 euros a month, but can boost that with the 40,000 euros up for grabs this weekend and its commercial tie-ins.

Using a Playstation console, the group matches are a single two-versus-two contest.

Matches in the knockout stages will be best of three contests and a mixture of one-versus-one and two-versus-two. The final will be best of five.

“A Kylian Mbappe will always be more fluid to play with than a Mitroglou but in the game he isn’t better than him,” explains Derradji, referring to Kostas Mitroglou a Greek striker who is on Marseille’s books. – AFP

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