Echo Fox founder Rick Fox has spoken to TMZ about the news that he’d sell his stake in the esports organization. The outlet asked the former NBA star if he’d stick it out if the team severed its ties with investor Amit Raizada. According to Fox, he would, but as things stand he refuses to stay in business with a racist.
Last week, after the press obtained Fox’s letter announcing his departure, Echo Fox confirmed that that one of its investors had used racial epithets towards members of its organization. The offender, thought to be Raizada, reportedly used the N-word in a dispute with former CEO Jace Hall. He had reportedly used similar language in other incidents.
The case is complicated. In other instances of racism in esports, it’s usually a fan or player doing something dumb. This makes it easier to exact punishment, by either ejecting or firing them. In this case, however, the organization does not directly employ the culprit. Instead, he holds a partial ownership in it.
This makes taking action much more complex. While using racist language does not speak well of you, it’s not illegal. As such, Raizada retains certain rights as an investor in Echo Fox parent company Vision Esports. The organization may have expressed its desire to distance itself from him, but it seems unlikely that he’ll just walk away from his financial interests. Especially since he apparently has a history of litigation against former business partners.
That said, with League of Legends developer Riot Games pursuing its own investigation into the matter, a decision may be forced anyway. While the organization competes in more than just the LCS, it is likely one of the more of the lucrative leagues. As such, the team’s participation has required substantial investment. Rick Fox himself originally bought Gravity Gaming’s LCS spot for $1 million back in 2015, and the league required another $10 million buy-in when it franchised last year.
There’s reportedly also significant pressure from other Vision Esports investors. These include several of Fox’s fellow sports personalities, as well as the Disney family’s investment vehicle and the New York Yankees. It seems unlikely these will stand for this kind of behavior either.
Nor should anyone else, of course. As Fox himself said to TMZ, we’re not in medieval times anymore. It’s time we do and demand better. Hopefully, the team can announce such soon.
Writer, developer and esports observer from the land of cheese and windmills.