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The reason FIFA 21 is trending on Twitter

On Jan. 7, the hashtag #FIFA21 began trending on Twitter. While FIFA is the name of the worldwide non-profit governing body for professional soccer, the acronym has become arguably more well-known as the title of EA's series of soccer simulation games. In this particular case, #FIFA21 trending on Twitter is related to FIFA 2021, the latest cross-generation entry into EA's popular video game series, though it has some importance to the real-life soccer world as well. The source of the hashtag's current popularity is EA's voting for its Team of the Year awards having begun.

Team of the Year voting is an annual tradition in FIFA's Ultimate Team mode, or FUT, which allows players to compose playable teams out of stars from professional soccer's past and present alike. Candidates for Team of the Year are comprised of 70 players in total, determined to be among the best in their respective positions in the most recent season of real-life professional soccer.

Fans visiting FIFA's voting site will be tasked with choosing the 11 players they want most to win Team of the Year honors. Selections are required to mimic a full on-field lineup. This means that they must be comprised of one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three attackers. Though voting results only have in-game implications, selections are nevertheless based on real-life player performances, turning the poll into something of a popularity contest on top of its importance to FIFA 21 as a game.

Upon the time of the poll's completion, special Team of the Year cards will be become purchasable in-game via its recently revised FUT packs. Team of the Year cards are special versions of player cards with high level stats that come as a result of their Team of the Year designation. Cards, in this case, are what are used to add players to teams in FUT mode.

Many of the most-liked tweets using the hashtag are from the accounts for real-life professional soccer teams promoting their Team of the Year-nominated players. Examples include English Premier League team Liverpool FC sharing its eight nominated players and the German Bundesliga's Borussia Dortmund promoting its three nominated team members. In these and other cases, of course, teams are encouraging fans to vote for their eligible players. Other Twitter users are simply using the hashtag to share their personal picks for this year's honors.

Games in the FIFA franchise include leagues from around the world, so the hashtag's popularity could be attributed in part to its near-worldwide relevance. Voting for Team of the Year is currently expected to close on Jan. 18.

While fans are currently excited about FIFA 21, the game was the subject of a lawsuit last year, which is unfortunately not the only recent FIFA-related controversy.