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Ubisoft moves Rainbow Six Siege esports tournament from UAE after backlash

Fans had protested over country’s LGBTQ+ record.

24 February 2022 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Rainbow Six Siege has more than 70m registered players
  • New host for event yet to be announced

A Rainbow Six Siege esports tournament will no longer take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), after protests over the country’s record on LGBTQ+ issues.

Ubisoft, which publishes the tactical shooter game, holds three Rainbow Six Siege tournaments each year and had announced plans on 20th February for an event in the Gulf state.

However, this prompted a strong backlash from fans, resulting in a petition to move the tournament attracting more than 13,000 signatures.

Ubisoft had said it had held discussions with the UAE government and local esports partners to ensure the event would be one in which anyone ‘of all gender identities, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, or other individual traits’ would be included and welcomed.

But the petition called the decision ‘short-sighted’ and ‘borderline insulting to our identity’.

In a statement, Ubisoft said: ‘We want to stress that the safety and wellbeing of our event’s participants and staff is always our primary concern, and we are proud of what Rainbow Six Siege represents as a world where diversity, inclusion and acceptance are at its core.’

The company added that it had ‘taken the decision to move the Six Major of August 2022 to another Rainbow Six Esports region’. The exact location is yet to be determined.

Ubisoft also said it would keep on developing and structuring its competitive activities in MENA, through local and regional tournaments and activations.

It is not the first esports competition to find itself in hot water due to ties with the Middle East. In July 2020, Riot Games’ League of Legends European Championship (LEC) ended its partnership with Saudi Arabian smart city Neom less than a day after announcing the deal.

The tie-up was heavily criticised due to Saudi Arabia’s anti-LGBTQ+ laws, with many fans stating they would boycott the league.

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