FIFA 21: EA Sports reacts why they used Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s name and face without permission

Football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović has claimed EA is using his name and face in FIFA 21 without his permission, and declared it’s “time to investigate”.

In a tweet, the AC Milan striker – who is still banging in goals left, right and centre at the ripe old age of 39 – wondered who had given EA permission to use his name and face for their billion dollar a year mega-franchise. The latest to launch an attack on gaming and betting companies after a host of players signed up for the Project Red Card earlier this year. Red Card suggested that gaming companies used performance and tracking data without permission and compensation and filed a lawsuit demanding the claim.

Ibrahimović pointed the finger at FIFPro, the global representative of professional football players, who he claims to be unaware of. EA – and indeed PES developer Konami – license the use of thousands of footballers’ faces via FIFPro each year. Teams and leagues are negotiated separately.

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It seems unlikely Zlatan’s investigation will go anywhere, but this is Zlatan we’re talking about, so perhaps he’ll end up with a special case deal that makes him happy.

EA’s response

In a statement in response to Zlatan’s comments sent to Bleacher Report said,

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. 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.”

EA Sports has a licensing deal with FIFPro, the international soccer player’s union. The deal runs similarly to how EA retains likeness rights to players in the NFL, NBA and other sports for video games. EA negotiates with the union, which then provides a stipend to players who are in the game.

If a player is not in FIFPro, likeness rights are then held by the player, club or international team. Given the sheer scope of the FIFA game series and the number of federations and leagues around the sport, there are likely numerous separate licensing agreements EA has in place to obtain the likeness of every top player.

 

It’s worth pointing out EA signed a partner deal with both Milan clubs back in July, which includes the use of AC Milan’s kit, players and stadium. It’s a deal that was heavily publicised ahead of the launch of FIFA 21 earlier this year.