Fifa esports World Cup finalists respond to penalty row

Pro gaming teams say the result of the Fifa esports World Cup final has been overshadowed by controversy.

A row broke out after Mark Zakhary – aka Mark11 – lost to Manuel “Bachoore” Bachoore on penalties.

Mark’s team Futwiz claim he tried to stop play because his controller inputs were visible on a big screen, revealing where he was aiming.

Organiser FIFAe said it’s reviewed footage and found “no competitive advantage” was gained during the match.

Competition game Fifa 23 has an option to enable input overlay – which displays a player’s controller on-screen.

This meant Mark’s button presses were also shown around the arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

His team, Futwiz, claim he tried three times to tell referees and ask them to restart the shootout, but lost 4-5 to Team Gullit player Bachoore.

Mark tells BBC Newsbeat the distraction “mentally affected” him a lot.

“I didn’t know what to feel because it was too hard a situation to be in,” he says.

“Millions of people can see where I’m shooting, I honestly didn’t know what I was doing at that time.”

Mark’s clear that he doesn’t think his opponent’s team would cheat, but isn’t impressed with the way organisers handled the situation.

Manuel Bachoore celebrates winning the FIFAe World Cup 2023. He's holding the tall, cylindrical trophy on top of his head like a hat. He's smiling and wearing a navy blue football shirt with his team's logo on the left breast, and a New Balance logo on the right. His team captain Renzo is stood next to him, wearing the same t-shirt but in black, and he's holding his hands up as if bowing in worship. Gold pieces of confetti rain down on the stage around the pair
Image caption,Manuel Bachoore took home the trophy – and $300,000 in prize money

His opponent Manuel says he “had no idea that a controller was even on the screen, and I just heard some noises in the background”.

“If I wanted I could look but if I did I would probably be disqualified,” he says.

Manuel says it’s possible Mark “wasn’t in the zone” due to the distraction, but he’s not responsible for that.

And Manuel says he feels “amazing” after winning the record $300,000 (£232,000) first prize.

“Definitely the best day in my career,” he says.

‘Title that I deserve’

The bosses of Futwiz and Team Gullit tell Newsbeat the controversy has put focus in the wrong place.

Futwiz coach Dan Bellis says: “Everyone’s talking about how it ended.

“We should be celebrating the fact that one of these young lads has been crowned the best in the world,” he says.

Team Gullit’s coach Renzo Oemrawsingh agrees the controversy is “disappointing” and “takes away the shine” of the win.

But he rejects suggestions there should be a rematch after FIFAe investigated.

“Mark had the controller input in there. That is an optional feature which a player can choose,” he says.

“I don’t want to say it but it’s kind of their own responsibility to be aware of that.”

The stage is set for the final of the FIFAe World Cup 2023. A large, main screen is flanked on either side by two screens of similar sizes. On one side, a photo of finalist Mark11 is shown, alongside his match record. On the other, a similar picture of opponent Bachoore. In front of them is a stepped stage with podiums dotted around it. On each podium is a smaller screen, replicating one of the main images. The whole arena is in semi-darkness, save for the glow from the screens and neon blue strip lights which line the stage and steps.
Image caption,The event was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and watched online by a large audience

In a statement, FIFAe said players are told their input overlay might be broadcast if they choose to enable it.

It said “the same situation occurred during the semi-finals” and no further concerns were raised before the final.

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