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Should EA Sports add women’s soccer players to ‘FIFA’ game?

Video games giant EA Sports has received criticism for failing to include women’s players and teams on its popular title “FIFA” in the wake of the United States’ dramatic victory over Japan for the Olympic gold medal.

The Americans’ 2-1 triumph was watched by over 80,000 fans in Wembley Stadium and an audience of 4.35 million, a new record for NBC Sports Network.

Yet, there are still no soccer video games that feature women, denying fans the opportunity to perform as stars like Abby Wambach or Hope Solo on “FIFA,” a new version of which is released every year and has sold more than 100 million copies.

Frustrated fan Fernanda Schabarum from Boca Raton, Fla., began a petition this week to try to force EA Sports to change its policy and respond to the additional exposure of women’s soccer following a remarkable Olympic tournament. Schabarum started a campaign on the website change.org.

“Athletes, young and old, look up to these women for their athleticism and sportsmanship,” Schabarum said. “EA Sports should feature them in the next FIFA release so that all soccer fans can have a chance to play as their favorite soccer stars.”

In spite of its current vast selection of game modes and features, none of the FIFA games has an option for women’s teams or female players.

The Entertainment Software Association has stated that 47% of all players are women.

And the US Department of State says that over 40% of soccer players in the US are girls.

Despite the success of the American team, women’s soccer struggles to get attention outside of major championships – a situation that could be helped by the team’s inclusion in the wildly popular video game. U.S. league Women’s Professional Soccer folded earlier this year after three seasons.

“Don’t restrict our choices to Messi, Rooney, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo,” Schabarum  adds. “Allow girls and boys to play with Wambach, Sawa, Morgan, Cristiane, Miyama, Rapinoe, Marta, Hope Solo, Mia Hamm, Birgit Prinz.”

Gold-medal hero Carli Lloyd, who scored twice in the American’s final victory, believes adding female athletes to the game could have a positive impact on women’s soccer.

“I would love for EA Sports to add females to the FIFA games,” Lloyd said. “Women’s sports have come a long way, and it will only help grow the game if EA Sports added females to the game.”

An EA Sports official said the company routinely reviews fans’ suggestions for the game. But David Rutter, executive producer of “FIFA 13” quashed the idea of making change to the line-up.

“We get literally thousands upon thousands of suggestions from our fans for new features and we have to evaluate those suggestions, such as the inclusion of female players in the game, against our resources, priorities and overall fan feedback,” said David Rutter. “At the moment, we don’t have plans to include female players in the game.”

Last year,  thanks to the efforts of a 14-year-old hockey-loving girl, EA Sports National Hockey League title was released with one big, shiny new feature: the ability to create female player avatars.

So there may be hope yet. EA would be foolish not to add women to an upcoming version of FIFA don’t you think?

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2 Comments

  1. MichaelScoates says:

    I’ve been trying to promote this petition for the last couple of days.  Publisher Electronic Arts appears to have valid reasons for not including female players for at least the next couple of versions of FIFA, the most important of which is that different ‘skeletons’ and motion captures are required for player models and likenesses which use up system resources already earmarked for other things in the game, not to mention they’d have to sort out licensing for using official team names and leagues, national kits and so on.
     
    But two years hence?  No real excuses other than denying that there’s a marketplace for adding female soccer players to the FIFA series.  Which is why this petition is so important, it lets EA know there is a demand and that they’re expected to meet it.  If EA do take the lead and meet that demand, other publishers should follow suit.  The FIFA series isn’t the only video game where there’s no female representation, blockbusters like Call of Duty and Battlefield, which have large female gamer followings, may finally follow suit.
     
    Overall the way I see it is that the gaming industry was male-dominated for so long (this has now changed, ironically Electronic Arts greatly helped the change come about) that the games themselves have been left behind and have yet to catch up to address the current gender ratio of female:male gamers.
     
    If you want it, you’ve got to shout for it, otherwise they won’t hear you.  So keep spreading the word, get the petition link out to as many people as possible, be a game changer.

  2. MichaelScoates says:

    And hey again, long time no see!  Great news, EA have announced that they’re including 12 Women’s National Teams in this year’s FIFA 16.  You can read all about it here: https://www.easports.com/fifa/women

    So I’m just dropping by to thank you all for helping to highlight this issue (my daughter played football back then, she’s now at University, so it’s an issue close to my heart too).  It’s a landmark decision by Electronic Arts, and they’ve emphasised how important it is by making this their first announcement about this year’s installment of FIFA 16, I’m sure they’ve got many other new features to announce too in the run up to September’s launch of the game, but they chose this feature to announce first.  I’m delighted, also excited for the World Cup in Canada.

    Thank you all :)

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