The saga started earlier this week (November 23) when the A.C. Milan striker asked on Twitter: “Who gave FIFA EA Sport permission to use my name and face?”, claiming it was “time to investigate”. Tottenham player Gareth Bale weighed in with a tongue-in-cheek response, using the hashtag #TimeToInvestigate.
Who gave FIFA EA Sport permission to use my name and face? @FIFPro? I’m not aware to be a member of Fifpro and if I am I was put there without any real knowledge through some weird manouver.
And for sure I never allowed @FIFAcom or Fifpro to make money using me
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) November 23, 2020
Ibrahimović’s agent, Mino Raiola, made a statement in an interview with The Telegraph. According to Raiola around 300 players shared his feelings and wished to pursue legal action over their likenesses in the FIFA games.
EA has now stepped in and provided a statement to Forbes in which it details the hierarchy of control over players’ licensing.
“The licensing arguments being played out in social media for effect are not an issue for EA or EA Sports. This is between FIFPro, the players within their association and their representatives. FIFPro has told us this is their issue, and they’re handling it — we expect a statement to that effect imminently,” a spokesperson said.
“This isn’t our fight. This isn’t about EA Sports or video games, players or fans. It’s a battle between football agents and FIFPro. Mino Raiola is a respected player representative who we have partnered with for many years, including this year when our relationship ensured his client Erling Haaland would be part of our FIFA 21 marketing campaign.
“We have also enjoyed a great working relationship with Zlatan Ibrahimović, who has appeared in every FIFA since 2002 and regularly received awards as part of our FUT experience.”
Fans worry that a model that sees FIFPro negotiate deals with individual players is unsustainable, and would lead to a less accurate game with more generic players.