ESL CEO Tells Employees to "Abstain from Political Discussion"

By Alistair Jones on at

The co-CEO and co-founder of esports broadcaster ESL, Ralf Reichert, told the company’s 700 employees not to “actively engage in the discussion” regarding the Hong Kong protests. According to the Hong Kong Free Press, Reichert sent out a message on Slack last week encouraging employees to “abstain from political discussions.”

In that message, sent on October 9, Reichert said “all of you might have heard [about] the political discussions and strikes surrounding the situation in Hong Kong, China. As a global company being active in many countries around the globe, we naturally do abstain from political discussions and setting the best example by living our values. Therefore, we would like to suggest to not actively engage in the discussion, especially on social media.”

According to the HKFP, an ESL spokesperson said that “Mr Reichert’s internal message on Slack was a reminder to ESL employees about the general social media policies that have been in place for many years; that we do not use the ESL’s brand or platform for personal political statements.” The statement said that employees are “free to harbor personal views on private social media accounts.”

Over the past 19 years, ESL has run esports events around the world for titles including PUBG, CS:GO, and Dota 2. Last month, the company announced a partnership with Chinese streaming service Huya. Backed by Tencent, Huya purchased £23.9 million in ESL shares.

Earlier this month, Blizzard banned a Hearthstone pro from the game for 12 months after he expressed support for the protests during an official livestream. The developer has since reduced the player’s punishment in the wake of significant fan backlash.

Image credit: ESL | Helena Kristiansson