Brazilian Esports Teams on the Aftermath of Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Allegations

At the beginning of January 2021, a movement led by women who claimed to have suffered abuses by esports personalities took over the Brazilian esports scene. The accusation of rape by one woman against the former League of Legends (LoL) player, coach, and caster Gabriel “MiT” Souza encouraged many others to expose their stories, as reported in a thread covered by The Esports Observer.

Weeks after the shock on the esports world, TEO contacted the organizations that had their professionals accused in the reports, asking them what they currently do, or what they started doing to deal with abusive behavior.

One of the cases that came to light was the recording and sharing of an intimate vídeo without consent by the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) player Lincoln “fnx” Lau. Lau is currently benched in Imperial Esports, not due to the allegations but because of participation in an upcoming Brazilian reality show, according to the Brazilian news website GE. Speaking to TEO, Imperial Esports said that “at the time of the event, fnx was not part of Imperial, he played for another organization, the leak is old but has now become public. Imperial does not agree with such conduct and we always work closely with our players so that actions outside the organization’s guidelines do not happen, no player committed harassment or any type of discrimination while wearing the Imperial shirt.”

Imperial also said that “we have psychological guidance for athletes, in which various subjects of the players’ professional and personal life are addressed. They are always oriented to build an environment without toxicity and discrimination in esports, as mentioned before we work so that actions different from the organization’s guidelines do not happen.”

The yng Sharks Esports player Fillipe “pancc” Martins, accused by multiple women of harassment on the internet including sexually-themed conversations with two underage girls, publicly admitted and apologized about the claims against him. The team then benched the player for four to six months and will return to the team only after a valid medical report. The medic will be chosen by the organization and the player, and if after six months the report does not show progress, Martins will have his contract terminated. During this period, Martins will also take a salary cut, with those proceeds going to a non-governmental organization that supports harassment victims.

The actions taken were well received by the local community. To TEO, yng Sharks, through its CEO João Duarte, said that “the Sharks have a professional and very efficient recruitment system in which they analyze the technical, tactical, behavioral, and psychological characteristics of the players, trying to minimize the margin of error. In any case, there are always unexpected situations. The important thing is not to try avoiding all hypotheses, because it is impossible. The important thing is to know how to act and react in the best way when it is necessary. Sharks tries, at its scale, to lead by example.” 

Accused by multiple people of demanding intimate photos of players he trained, including underaged players, former Flamengo Esports coach Guilherme Henrique “Kake” Braga Morais was fired from the organization on the same day the story broke. The reports included screenshots from Discord proving the accusations made by the players, and Morais simply deleted his Twitter account. Through its parent company Simplicity Esports, Flamengo Esports outlined to TEO its recent internal actions to prevent that this type of situation from happening again:

“Flamengo Esports has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment. We have created direct and open lines of communication between players and staff with upper management at Simplicity Esports, and encourage immediate reporting of any words or actions that could be perceived as harassment.”

A story with a different outcome was the one regarding the LoL player Willyan “Wos” Bonpam, who was accused of sexual assault by one woman. He plays for Vorax, an organization that holds in its expressed values “representativeness, justice, competitiveness, and respect,” carrying the flag of being inclusive and diverse. Therefore, expectations of the audience on the actions by the organization towards the case were considerably high.

Marina Leite, the CEO of Vorax who describes herself as a feminist and is one of the main symbols of woman empowerment in the Brazilian esports scene, also happens to be a lawyer and, with the support of other professionals, investigated the claims against the player. In a public video published a few days after the story broke, Leite said that she spoke to Bonpam and also to the woman who accused him. In her evaluation of the story, to which she said she had access to more details than the broad audience, that what happened was not a sexual assault.

Shortly after, the woman who accused Bonpam deleted her initial tweet, publishing a new one in which she says that what happened was not rape, but she wanted to unburden something that was disturbing her and was not meant to get the attention it got. Bonpam also published a video exposing his version, saying that they had a relationship, and on the day described on the woman’s Twitter, he indeed tried something but stopped as soon as the woman said “no.”

Marina Leite told TEO that the decision of claiming Bonpam not guilty was announced and explained to every woman working in Vorax before any public statement. When communicating to the audience, Vorax has suffered backlash from the community, claiming that the organization was not following its values. Leite said that firing Bonpam would be the easiest way out regarding the relationship with the community, but said it was not the right thing to do.

Leite also told TEO that Vorax makes a strong background check with all of its employees, making sure that they represent the beliefs of the organization. She finished by saying that “the abuser has no face, but I have confidence in the work I have done with the boys and I believe that they represent what we want.”

Jan. 5, 2021, stood as a historic date for the Brazilian esports as women raised their voices against abuses they suffered in the backstage of the scene. On this day, the local community saw that, although this problem affects many other areas in the world, this issue in esports can be addressed now while the scene is still being developed. If players, organizations, and influential people speak more about and address these questions to the community, maybe esports can be different, and become an example of the promotion of a more respectful society.

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