Zlatan Ibrahimovic tweeted on Monday that the gaming company EA Sports had allegedly been using his image without his permission:
Somebody is making profit on my name and face without any agreement all these years.
Time to investigate
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 23, 2020
Gareth Bale responded with a ‘#TimeToInvestigate’ tweet, as both players pointed the finger at the company, and FIFPro.
EA have since released a statement, responding the accusations:
“EA SPORTS FIFA is the world’s leading football video game, and to create an authentic experience year after year we work with numerous leagues, teams and individual talent to secure the rights of player likeness to include in our game,” read the statement.
“One of those is a long-standing relationship with the global representative of professional football players, FIFPro, who partner with a number of licensors to negotiate deals that benefit the players and their unions.”
“We acquire these licenses directly from leagues, teams, and individual players. In addition, we work with FIFPro to ensure we can include as many players as we can to create the most authentic game.”
“In these instances, our rights to player likenesses are granted through our club agreement with AC Milan and our long-standing exclusive partnership with the Premier League, which includes all players for Tottenham Hotspur.”
A seemingly fair response from the company… The football and gaming worlds now await a retort from the players.
EA Sports’ FIFA game has long been a mainstay in the video game market, and a huge part of modern football culture. Players themselves, despite the recent controversy, have shown themselves to be massive fans.
Former Hull City midfielder David Meyler, for example, has even become an online streamer through playing FIFA – regularly uploading content, including opening FIFA Ultimate Team packs.
— DM (@DavidMeyler) November 20, 2020
However, it is these ‘packs’ which have stirred considerable recent debate. Ultimate Team is a game mode within FIFA in which players can build their own custom teams using player cards of varying quality based on a player’s ability.
These players can be acquired in three ways. Firstly, through the transfer market, where players use in-game coins to purchase the cards being sold by other players.
Secondly, through objectives, in which players need to complete specific tasks in order to access special versions of certain players. Finally, through in-game packs, which can be bought through the use of the in-game coin system or with FIFA points. These points are bought with real money, but hold no real life value.
For example, were a player to pack a Lionel Messi card worth a significant number of coins, that player could not sell that Messi card for real money or FIFA points, but instead only in-game coins.
This has led to some questioning whether the PEGI-3 rated game technically includes a form of gambling, which should only be accessible to players over the age of 18.
EA Sports CEO Andrew Wilson explained in 2019 that because players “always receive a specified number of items in each pack”, and “don’t provide or authorise any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money”, that they are not involved in “an illegal game of chance”.
FIFA 21 is the latest iteration of the game, and includes the same method of pack purchasing which has long featured.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic investigates EA Sports for using his name and image in their FIFA video game without alleged permission
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This article was edited by Conor Laird.
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