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EA Breaks Its Silence On FIFA 21 Controversy

Electronic Arts is widely known for questionable practices, microtransactions, and coining the term "surprise mechanics." While games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars: Squadrons have boosted the company's reputation, FIFA 21 is trying to keep EA firmly planted in the mire thanks to controversies. However, EA isn't taking it lying down.

Recently, AC Milan's star player Zlatan Ibrahimović turned soccer fan and gamer heads alike by tearing into EA via Twitter. He is known less for his video game prowess and more for his ability to bicycle kick balls into goalie nets, so his roast came as a surprise to many. However, instead of joining the chorus of anti-microtransaction activists, Ibrahimović was steamed that EA used his name and likeness in FIFA 21. He claimed he never gave anyone permission to use his face in the game, and he never gave anyone at FIFPro, which is in charge of licensing player likenesses in media, permission to give that permission, either.

At first, EA was silent on the matter, but the company recently sent a response to Push Square, and their missive does not mince words. The statement claimed that EA has "contractual rights to include the likeness of all players currently in our game" and that it acquires these likenesses through individuals, teams, and leagues. In this case, EA holds that it acquired the rights to include Ibrahimović through a "club agreement" with AC Milan, as well as a partnership with the Premier League. To put it bluntly, EA believes Ibrahimović's beef is with his team, not EA. FIFPro is just one of the many entities EA could have worked with to place Ibrahimović in the game, but it might have been AC Milan that gave the company the green light.

However, EA wasn't content to just nip the controversy in the bud — they also tried to call Ibrahimović's criticism into question. EA's statement alleged that Ibrahimović started the whole controversy to "draw FIFA 21 into a dispute between a number of 3rd parties" and that the situation "has little to do with EA Sports." In other words, EA claimed Ibrahimović started Twitter drama to slander a video game, not call into question certain licensing practices. Regardless, Ibrahimović has made his opinion known, and countless other soccer stars, possibly in the thousands, are reportedly joining him in mass protest.

Taking EA's statement at face value, the company is likely within its legal rights to use Ibrahimović's name and face in FIFA 21, whether or not he knew of AC Milan's agreement. Now if only someone could shed light on EA's counter-allegation that Ibrahimović is just trying to trash EA Sports.