One of the simple pleasures during a major sporting event like the World Cup is simulating your own version of the tournament on the likes FIFA, Pro Evo or Sensible Soccer*.

In video-game land, countries' best players don't have arguments with their managers and, circa 2002, Ireland became world champions many times over, though possibly with the aid of a cheeky reload here and there.

Now that Covid-19 has effectively cancelled real sport for the foreseeable, some of the stars of pitch, court and track are resorting to what the less physically talented among us have had to do for years - virtual competition.

When last Sunday's Seville derby was cancelled, Real Betis' Borja Iglesias and Sevilla defender Sergio Reguilón stepped forward to contest it with their clubs in FIFA instead and were watched by an audience of 60,000 online.

After their first game had ended 5-5, Betis striker Iglesias incredibly scored a golden goal winner with the virtual version of himself.

"I hope you have enjoyed it and the quarantine became more enjoyable. A hug to all," he tweeted afterwards.

Elsewhere, Watford simulated their postponed game with Leicester on notorious time-hole Football Manager (it ended 1-1).

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At home, all 10 of the SSE Aitricity League Premier Division clubs have nominated one of their players to take part in the online esports Cup, a FIFA 20 tournament which will raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland.

Sufferers of CF are particularly susceptible to the lung damage that can be caused by coronavirus.

Republic of Ireland and Shamrock Rovers star Jack Byrne is one of those who will be picking up the controller for a good cause this week.

Over the water, League Two club Leyton Orient have organised a 128-club online competition they call the Ultimate QuaranTeam (a play on FIFA's Ultimate Team mode), with teams encouraged to broadcast their games on the streaming platform Twitch. 

Cork City,  Derry City, Dundalk, Finn Harps, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers have all chosen representatives to play against teams hailing from 15 other countries.

As well as providing a diversion from the lack of real-life games to watch, the organisers are encouraging donations to a fundraiser that goes mostly to the English Football League.

Given the EFL was able to announce £50m in emergency support to its clubs on Wednesday that might be a slightly harder sell but admittedly clubs like Leyton Orient would be far closer to League of Ireland budgets than those of Championship giants like Leeds.

"As much as there's rivalry in football, I think the bottom line is that everyone - to an extent - likes to look out for each other and everyone wants to do the right thing a lot of the time," Orient media manager Luke Lambourne said.

"If we can have a fundraiser that helps other clubs and everyone can have a bit of fun at the same time, then everyone’s a winner."

E-sports is already a $1 billion industry worldwide that attracts huge audiences in person and online, though the majority tune in for games that aren't based on sport.

The likes of the Premier League, NBA and Formula One have all set up online leagues based on soccer, basketball and racing games.

Now, athletes are rushing to join online gamers as demand and viewing figures soar while many are stuck inside.

Darren Cox is CEO of Torque Esports and founder of, which organised an all-star race last Sunday after the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was cancelled. 

It featured Red Bull F1 driver Max Verstappen and Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud among the entrants and more than 515,000 people were watching live.

"People that I’ve spoken to over years that have had no interest at all in gaming suddenly want to be involved," Cox said. "It’s insane. I’ve never seen anything like it.

"At the moment we're changing our format because we’ve got too many real drivers. I think we’re up to 30 real drivers that are confirmed that want in."

A similar 'Not the Aus GP' organised by Veloce Esports, which counts ex-F1 racer and Formula E champion Jean-Eric Vergne as a co-founder, featured Real Madrid soccer goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois alongside McLaren's Lando Norris.

Across the Atlantic, NBA side the Phoenix Suns are playing out their remaining games of their postponed season on NBA2K and streaming them live and last night saw Ty Jerome become the first player on the real-life roster to take on the virtual mantle against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Jerome beat Timberwolves star Josh Okogie 93-63 but couldn't convince his avatar to dunk.

Meanwhile, in a different kind of e-sport, multiple Darts world champions Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld are planning to face off in a charity match live on Facebook next month.

They will do so from the comfort of their own living rooms thanks to the Nexus Electronic Dartboard, which allows players to compete online and communicate with their opponent. Hopefully they will remember to keep the pints off-camera.

So if your loved ones are giving you grief over spending too much time playing sports games while on lockdown, just tell them you're in training for your next career as an e-sports pro. If the pros don't beat you to it.

* Ask your Dad. One-button brilliance.