GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - JUNE 26:  Eric Choupo-Moting (R) plays esport prior to the FC Schalke 04 general assembly at Veltins Arena on June 26, 2016 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.  (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

9 Leading Football Clubs Who You Might Not Know Also Have Esports Teams

The world of esports is growing at an extreme pace and football clubs want to be a part of it.

It has been headline news when a handful of clubs have signed FIFA players to represent them at tournaments, but football's involvement in esports goes deeper than that, and a lot more are involved than you might think.

The trend will only see more and more start esports teams, too...

9. Besiktas JK

The esports branch of Besiktas was established in early 2015, becoming just another division of the Istanbul club alongside the obvious football, but also basketball, athletics, gymnastics, rowing, volleyball, wrestling and other sports.

Besiktas were the first football club to take the plunge into the developing world of esports after acquiring the Aces High team, already skilled in League of Legends, and renaming it 'Besiktas e-Sports'.

8. FC Copenhagen

Danish Superliga champions FC Copenhagen has become one of the latest football clubs to step into esports after joining forces with entertainment and production company Nordisk Film to launch a new elite Counter Strike team last month. 

In typical football transfer fashion, Copenhagen acquired several players for the new 'North' team from another outfit. Team Dignitas was already well established in the world of esports and released its Danish players from their contracts at the end of 2016 to sign with Copenhagen's team.

7. Sporting CP

'Effort, Dedication, Devotion and Glory' is the motto on Sporting CP's esports website.

The Portuguese club says it is 'convinced' that esports will become the sport of the 21st century, with a competitive presence a natural progression as the industry grows at incredible speed.

Sporting boast a pair of esports coordinators and a chief gaming officer, while Francisco 'Quinzas' Cruz is the club's resident FIFA star. Quinzas was a Portuguese FIFA champion at the age of 14 in 2009 and the youngest ever world champion two years later in 2011.

6. CF Valencia

Back-to-back Champions League finalists at the turn of the century, Valencia proudly declares itself as 'the first Spanish Primera División side to devote an entire section of the club to virtual sport'.

The La Liga side do much more than just FIFA when it comes to esports, though, with players for League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone as well as virtual football.

The esports side is fully branded as a 'club' in its own right, with regular updates for fans on Valencia's official website. And as recently as November 2016 Los Che were advertising to find 28 gamers across Playstation and Xbox platforms to fill two whole FIFA squads.

5. Schalke 04

Schalke have really taken esports very seriously since embarking in the project. The German club hosted its first fan viewing event this month and even sell replica jerseys with the names and numbers of their esports players on the back.

Why have 'Huntelaar 25' printed on your shirt when you could have 'SmittyJ 11' instead?

Schalke actually faced Paris Saint-Germain's esports team in League of Legends earlier this month, with the French champions also having signed up two FIFA players as well.

4. West Ham United

West Ham became the first British club to sign a professional gamer in May 2016 when Sean 'Dragonn' Allen was taken on to officially represent the Hammers at FIFA events around the world.

Having finished as runner-up in FIFA's Interactive World Cup earlier that year, Allen was even assigned a squad number, 50, which he wears for competitions.

"This is a massive move forward for me. I have been playing competitive FIFA for a very long time and this is the biggest thing ever to happen to me," the 24-year-old told when the news broke.

3. Manchester City

Manchester City followed West Ham's example in July of last year when an 18-year-old by the name of Kieran 'Kez' Brown was signed up to play FIFA on behalf of the club. 

"Happy to Announce I'm the first esports FIFA player for Manchester City. Something New. Something Different. I look forward to seeing how this goes," Kez tweeted to fans on social media when news of his Etihad arrival was released.

2. VfL Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg became the first professional football club to sign a FIFA player for esports when they brought Benedikt Saltzer on board in the summer of 2015.

"We're reaching young supporters in particular with esports, and we're delighted about that. We want to use our ever increasing commitment in this area to bring these two worlds even closer together in future," general manager Klaus Allofs told a few months later.

Wolfsburg also signed up 22-year-old English gamer David Bytheway in 2016 as they further look to establish their position as a world leader in the football esports industry.

1. AS Roma

AS Roma announced a brand new partnership with leading esports organisation Fnatic on Tuesday afternoon, ​introducing the Serie A club's first professional team to the ever-growing FIFA esports league. 

Roma president Jim Pallotta said in the official announcement statement: "With the tremendous growth of eSports and continued attention placed on games like FIFA, we've partnered with Fnatic, the world’s leading eSports organisation, to launch our eSports team. 

"This joint venture will enable us to start building a strong legacy in eSports and engage our fans in exciting new ways."

The AS Roma FIFA team joins Fnatic's stable of professional teams already competing in popular games including League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Dota 2, Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm.