EA responds to FIFA racism claims

EA responds to FIFA racism claims
Images via EA

Written by 

Tom Chapman


23rd Jan 2023 16:25

Electronic Arts is being shown a red card, as the publisher is being forced to respond to claims the long-running FIFA franchise is "racist."

2022 marked a milestone, with FIFA 23 being the 30th entry in the long-running football franchise. The title pushed diversity further than before when it made female star Sam Kerr the first woman to grace a global cover.

Football has come a long way in becoming a more inclusive sport, but a recent study claims EA still has a way to go.

Why has FIFA 23 been branded racist?

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EA Sports

A joint paper from Paul Ian Campbell, assistant professor in Sociology at Leicester University, and Marcus Maloney, assistant professor in Sociology at Coventry University, maintains that FIFA splits players based on race.

The pair looked at the data from 2019's FIFA 2020 and analysed the top 100 players from the game. Speaking to The Conversation, they explained their findings.

Narrowing the list to 88 outfield players, Campbell and Maloney claimed that black players were around 10% faster than white players, as well as more aggressive and physically stronger. Alongside this, white players reportedly ranked higher for technical traits like passing and shooting.

Discussing the findings, Campbell and Maloney said, "Put simply, our study found that the aggregate scores for the digital players' sporting attributes directly correlated with the racial stereotypes associated with black and white footballers in real life.

"It follows that the racial differences present within the coding mean that, on average, black and white digital players would feel very different to the gamer who is controlling them.

"In this sense, players of FIFA 20 could well learn racial difference - and often from a very young age - through seeing and feeling digital players perform differently."

EA responds to FIFA claims

EA clearly disagrees with the thesis - leaving its own statement to defend the football franchise. A spokesperson for EA Sports told The Conversation there's "no correlation between skin tone and skill in our game."

It continues, "The data presented within this study provides a narrow and incomplete view of overall player ratings. The study does not control for player position, which is crucial when determining a player's final attributes.

"Furthermore, the study accounted for 88 of approximately 17,000 players found within EA Sports FIFA 20. In our most recent game, EA Sports FIFA 23, this total is now over 19,000."

EA Sports reiterated, "Racism has no place in the world of football, and has no place in any of our games. While we acknowledge that biases continue to exist in sport, it is our duty as a leader in global football to stand against them."

In general, football has battled against racism, with FIFA announcing measures to deal with it as far back as 2013. More recently, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin suggested games be stopped if there's racism involved.

Sadly, the issue persists. You might remember the abuse leveled at England trio Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka following England's Euro 2020 defeat. While in 2022, a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan appeared in court after allegedly making a monkey gesture toward Rio Ferdinand.

Despite FIFA as an organisation and the long-running sports franchise taking a knee against racism, it's clearly an ongoing battle that won't be helped by claims like Campbell and Maloney's.

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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