Update: FIFPro has issued the following statement regarding this issue (thanks, Push Square):
In light of recent media reports, FIFPro wishes to clarify the manner in which it obtains the image rights of players, and its role in defending the employment rights of professional footballers worldwide. FIFPro, a not-for-profit organisation, acquires image rights via player unions in nearly 60 countries. These rights are made available to Electronic Arts and other clients in the video gaming industry. FIFPro’s relationship with the video gaming companies complements separate arrangements they directly agree with clubs, leagues, governing bodies, and individual players. FIFPro member unions decide how best to use the revenue generated, either by distributing funds directly among players or providing services in kind such as legal advice, second-career planning, and mental and physical assistance. FIFPro is reaching out to the players and their representation that have recently raised concerns so we can address their questions. As the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacts the football industry, we are proud of our member unions for having supported tens of thousands of footballers around the world.
FIFPro has also addressed the concerns of Zlatan Ibrahimović, Gareth Bale and agent Mino Raoila, pointing out that the trio has been involved with the FIFA brand for quite some time:
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. Gareth Bale’s eSports Company Elleven utilises our FIFA game as a key platform for his professional eSports athletes and we’re confident Gareth and his team see significant value in our partnership, as evidenced through this recently released content.
Original story [Wed 25th Nov, 2020 13:30 GMT]: Leading professional footballers Zlatan Ibrahimović and Gareth Bale have voiced concern about the way their names and likenesses are being used for profit by FIFA creator Electronic Arts, following reports that David Beckham has bagged a cool £40 million by allowing EA to feature him in the latest version of the game.
The long-running series is built on official licencing which allows EA to not only use the branding of leagues and clubs all over the world, but also the digital likenesses of some of the beautiful game's most famous players.
One of those players – Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimović – has questioned exactly who gave EA the permission to use his name and face in the game. He assumes it was FIFPro, a union for professional football players, but claims he never gave the organisation the authority to speak to EA about including him in the series:
Wales international Gareth Bale – who is signed to Spanish giants Real Madrid but is currently on loan to top-of-the-table Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur – added to the conversation:
Ibrahimović's agent Mino Raoila joined the thread, first stating that his hope was that "we get the answer to our letters now," before adding "FIFPro and AC Milan do not have players individual rights as I'm sure you know and as we've told you many times, EA Sports."
Bale's agent, Jonathan Barnett, told The Guardian that legal action was "something that is being looked into," and that "at the moment, the players don't get paid. Our big gripe is that FIFA are coming out with lots of rules and regulations saying that they are looking after the best interests of players but obviously they don't."
EA has issued the following statement on the matter:
We are aware of discussions around licensing of players in EA Sports FIFA. The current situation being played out on social media is an attempt to draw FIFA 21 into a dispute between a number of third parties and has little to do with EA Sports.
To be very clear, we have contractual rights to include the likeness of all players currently in our game. As already stated, we acquire these licences directly from leagues, teams, and individual players. In addition, we work with FIFPro to ensure we can include as many players as we can to create the most authentic game.
In these instances, our rights to player likenesses are granted through our club agreement with AC Milan and our long-standing exclusive partnership with the Premier League, which includes all players for Tottenham Hotspur.
According to GamesIndustry.biz, the "current situation" EA is referring to is FIFA's recently-announced plans to "introduce regulations on agents in 2021 that would limit their ability to represent more than one party in a transfer and add a cap to commission fees."
Following Ibrahimović and Bale's public statements on Twitter, some fans have been quick to point out that the pair have enjoyed a close association with FIFA over the years – Ibrahimović was picked as EA Sports Player of the Month in December 2016 and was later photographed with a physical copy of his Ultimate Team player card to promote FIFA 17. Bale, on the other hand, was one of the cover stars for FIFA 14.
Some have argued that it's highly unlikely that these two individuals have been totally unaware that their likenesses have been used in the game until now, and it has been speculated that Beckham's deal – not to mention the huge revenue generated by FIFA's Ultimate Team mode (27% of EA's total revenue in the previous fiscal year, according to GamesIndustry.biz) – is what has drawn their attention.
An accurate quote from ‘90’s on...
I'm really not into football at all so this is just a guess, but I imagine there's some small-print in the players' contracts that requires them to take part in promotion and publicity, of which the annual FIFA releases are a big part these days. I imagine Beckham got a fee because he's not subject to any ongoing player contracts.
You mean to say those players could be earning even more money? Damn.
Interesting. I know the WWE wrestlers love those games as it's one of the bigger paydays especially for the jobbers so I'd assume it's the same for FIFA and other sport games.
Damn, Football players dont have enough money as it is?
@JohnnyC I might be wrong, but I think Beckham was one of those "Jordan" examples where he wasn't in previous entries because he'd created his own brand? He had his own video game during the PS1 era.
"Some have argued that it's highly unlikely that these two individuals have been totally unaware that their likenesses have been used in the game until now, and it has been speculated that Beckham's deal – not to mention the huge revenue generated by FIFA's Ultimate Team mode (27% of EA's total revenue in the previous fiscal year, according to GamesIndustry.biz) – is what has drawn their attention."
So they are after a slice of the pie? Surely they already receive this in the pay from the clubs they belong to? Or I could be misunderstanding something...
Either way, anything that would make EA's life more difficult (having to negotiate rights for individual players rather than teams or leagues), I have no problem with. They make more than enough money of Ultimate Team anyway.
I just miss iron Mike in punch out.
@MS7000 Maybe a bigger slice of the pie? Beckham is going to earn £40 million and he doesn't even play professionally any more.
I see someone standing up to EA me likes
@Damo I suppose. However, I think either they won't see too much increase in overall earnings as they won't get paid as much by clubs, or... bigger, more famous players will get very big chunks of the pie, and the lesser know players on the teams will probably lose out on what they already get. Someone has got to lose their slice to make the other slices bigger.
@MS7000 I agree; it will only be the players with significant clout that will benefit from this.
You know what this could mean? Generic character models in the base game, then DLC to unlock the full player model so they get their image right payment! Haha!
So basically they noticed someone cashing in big money and now they want a slice of that too, sounds to me like this is all just a lame excuse to be greedy...
No matter who wins here it will be the consumer that loses out in the end.
I have no problem with players seeking a larger portion of the pie, because they're who I pay to watch, after all, but jeebus what idiots they are for signing multi-million [unit of currency] contracts and not knowing the fine print. I guarantee that whatever clauses allow teams to sell Ibra and Bale jerseys also cover appearances in FIFA. I can just imagine Bale talking to his agent:
"Why am I not getting paid for this?"
"You are, dumba$$."
Gareth Bale didn't know who FifPro were?!?!? Aye, alright pal
EA should put Gareth and Zlatan in the next UFC game. As a couple of chumps with pathetic stats who you just slap silly in the tutorial 🤣👍
Is be looking to renegotiate too if I found out someone had been holding out. EA is the epitome of corporate greed in action and their public statement simply highlights how tone deaf they are. With the money that EA makes on FIFA's gambling, they could pay each player in the game $15k and still have around $745m in revenue.
@PapaMurphy oh please god, yes 😂🤣😂
If more and more football players want "equal compensation" for the use of their likeness, this is the beginning of the end for FIFA. Its fanbase buys the game on the basis of being able to play with their favorite players, and, if the go back to the days of ISSS, when the game didn't have licensed names and likenesses, people would actually stop buying the game.
@AndyC_MK84 It's like they say on their statement, they make the deals with clubs, in most cases, in order to use the likeness of players in the game. And the clubs must give a fraction of the earnings of that deal to the players, which must be absolutely infimal hahaha
Nothing to do with EA.
Pick it up with the league, clubs and the player association. They are the ones selling this stuff to EA.
College students went after the NCAA for the same thing and won. I mean "won" nothing, because now there are no games.
@AndyC_MK84 They claim FIFA Teams isn't gambling when they encourage people to drop real money on a random chance mechanic that they are continuously increasing the quality of prizes for. It brings them over $1.2b annually, yet they don't pay dividends to their investors or pay out a bonus to the development team. Clearly they don't answer to their investors or the teams working on the games - the only people benefiting are those in the C-suite. As a former shareholder, you couldn't be more wrong about who is benefiting.
Yeah, I find hard to believe they just found out their names and likenesses were being used in a product like this. But if they want to cause problems, they can try. If they win or begin to demand crazy amounts of money we can end up having 90s style sports games, with no real names or faces. If that happens, FIFA as a game series is done.
@AndyC_MK84 yeah, of course, nonsense. I can accept that maybe Zlatan doesn't remember giving his permission. But somewhere along the line he has. I don't see this stinging EA to be honest.
@AndyC_MK84 They've never paid dividends before. They announced plans during the last shareholder meeting to distribute $3b over the next three years to investors at a payout rate of 0.6% approximately. They've been a public company since 1989. So during it's 31 years of existing they have not paid shareholders anything. , instead they relied on their success to allow the company to grow in value. Not all companies pay dividends, in fact the tech sector is one that literally sits on cash for ages with no payouts. Most of the time that's because they are reinvesting money into developing new and innovative tech/hardware/software. In the case of EA, it's because they've stagnated and are relying upon questionable tactics to create wealth. Over the next decade we'll likely see them explore alternative monetization methods as government regulations to limit gambling mechanics, which has already happened in some European countries.
@AndyC_MK84 They went public in 1989. You invest in companies like that to get the payout from growth. Key examples are Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple - none of them have paid dividends; however, they typically see year on year growth. Most of my stock holdings do not pay dividends, but I hold them because they have potential for growth (I.e.: Zoom in 2019, which I regret not buying sooner, but hindsight is 20/20). I sold my EA in 2016/17 because of generalized backlash toward gambling mechanics in video games. I do not regret that decision because I see that as an incoming storm as most companies have started to move away from that monetization method. While monthly/bi-monthly game passes aren't as lucrative, they're more stable and less likely to be targeted by governments.
Hang on, are people who jump to the defensive when Nintendo protect their IP are calling out footballers who want to do the same?
On this site? Never.....
Everyone making money off of someone...it comes down to who has the better lawyers.
@geordie Well, technically I own myself until I sign a contract that I don't. I don't own any of Nintendo's IPs nor did I create them they still have that right.
I don't much care about this but if it hurts EA in any way then it's a great thing.
Anything that causes EA more bother and ultimately more financial pain is absolutely a great thing, it must be encouraged and supported.
Ah yes, Rich People doing Politiks to use the Gusto of normal Folks to take more Money from other Rich People.
Didn’t this happen to American Football games a while back?
@geordie In this case, these dudes have knowingly worked with EA in the past, but are just now pulling an about face and pretending they never did.
Basically Beckham is retired, he is no longer a registered footballer so it would make sense that EA would have to pay him for inclusion.
But regards to Bale, I would imagine players are contractually obliged to be used by FIFA, Premier league etc under license.
Maybe he should retire now then do as Beckham?
EA and nefarious activities seem to go hand in hand these days.
It's funny to think that Zlatan didn't know about it, since his likeness has been used in FIFA games for almost a decade.
Even if he's right about it, it doesn't look like a question that you should tweet about before asking it to your manager/lawyer, as they are the ones who should be aware of this kind of things.
So if Bale is in the game, do you get to play golf on matchday?
@JohnnyC You really don't think players and their agents doesn't read through the contracts thoroughly? This is what agents do for a living...
Yeah I think the Beckham earnings were via a completely different agreement to current players as he is retired and has this money making brand (which is cringeworthy to me, but that's a different discussion). Ibra & Bale still play (though Bale in injury prone). They are 100% right not to implicitly trust EA though.
@Agramonte "No games". The NCAA has done everything it can to ignore that there's a pandemic and play as many games as possible. They'd rather let thousands of athletes die instead of canceling March Madness a second time. Suggesting that a legal decision will result in no games is ... the least true thing you've ever said.
@Fiskern I reckon the agents do and the players don't, which is why the players tweet first and then get embarrassed later when their agents tell them to shut up because their megabucks salaries already include their appearances in various promotional media like FIFA.
@JimmySpades "No games" as in there is no EA NCAA games anymore because NCAA/Collegiate Licensing Company got sued by students for not getting payed for their likenesses in-game.
So "winning" meant EA had to stop making it because they are waiting for the league and US colleges to figure it out. That happened back in 2014, nothing to do with covid in 2020 or live games.
This just shows how ignorant some footballers are.
Every avarage fans knows that most big sports leagues have the image rights for the clubs and their players.
I'm not a lawyer and I know nothing about football, but I just assume that when EA is involved in a lawsuit, they probably did something shady.
Seems to me it's not Bales fault this, he is probably more familiar with the PGA
As for Ibra I assume as God he is to great and important to know about lowly FIFA
Seems like the FIFPro license at that football games have been advertising they have for real player names and likenesses is only really profitable for FIFPro themselves which seems odd. Odder is that not one active player in the last two decades has bothered to question FIFPro for profiting off their names and likeness without some of that money making it's way to any players anywhere in the world. Chances are that when they sign their contracts their is something in them about FIFPro being the legal holder of all players names and appearances. Although if money were to be given to all players in the games I would imagine the fee they would want would increase massively so they still make and be able to pay even a small fee to everyone. So one one two things would happen the price of the games would increase or EA would have to drop the FIFPro license and only fully license a select few leagues and teams on a different deal.
Damn, Football players dont have enough money as it is?
@Vepra EA doesn't have enough as it is?
I hope the Belgian approach to EA takes hold EU-wide, but in the meantime, football stars deserve a greater share of EA's ill-gotten profits.
Sadly, this is going to end just like it did for the NBA and the NCAA.
They are going to make it to court, and FIFA is going to point out they signed contracts that are binding for life that allow FIFA to sell their children and auction off their organs if they fell like it. Hell, it's probably just an implied condition of playing in the origination they didn't even have to explicitly agree to.
The NCAA contracts were so blatantly corrupt that even if they won the court case, any restitution would have gone to their school's programs, not them personally.
It sucks being someone else's product. It sucks we let that happen. But ... we do.
I don't even like sports, but I'd rather the money go to the players than a trash tier horrible company like EA. EA is a cancer on the industry, warping things for the worse endlessly.
Not to care too much if EA lost money but to argue the principle...
if EA was doing something so wrong by not getting every single player's individual consent for every game, they'd have been sued out of the game nearly 30 years ago when they started making annually updated sports games (like the earliest Madden and NHL games. Or at least when they starting use full licenses, I heard the first few years they had only the player's union license or such.)
No, 30 years ago, they were threatened real quick by the cable TV network ESPN for stealing their slogan. So, it's not to say EA's HASN'T tried SOME funny business since the EA Sports inception.
@COVIDberry Im sure one football player makes way more money then an avarege EA employee. The company sure makes a lot of money but most of it goes to paychecks and stuff like that. I doubt that Zlatan has a whole company of people to feed.
@AndyC_MK84 And, on top of that, there's no way they'll pay more royalties to the players otr the teams.
Footballers and their greed are a big turnoff for me. I’ve been a Liverpool fan for 35 years and this season I’ve actually stopped watching football because of players selfishness and VAR. not sure I’ll ever watch a game again tbh.
I realise footballers are a bit thick but why has it taken them 20 years to work out they're in a video game?
It is now confirmed. They saw the size of Beckham's slice (not a euphemism) and wanted a bigger slice too.
@MS7000 It's not EA who are gonna pay for it though is it, it's the fans.
Everyone involved in this gets paid too much regardless, but that's sports for you.
@Big_Fudge Oh don't get me wrong, it theoretically will suck for fans of the game, as they will either lose the game outright as it no longer gets made, or they will get some football game with the same mechanics, but no actual players which still sucks as they can't play as their favourite teams.
But it would hurt EA immensely more. A significant portion of EA's money comes from Ultimate Team modes in their sports game ($1.49 billion revenue in the last fiscal year alone), with FIFA being the biggest. I don't think FIFA would disappear entirely purely for the fact that half of that figure is still better than none of it, so I reckon EA would go through the motions to obtain all the rights as they would still make bank. At which point, fans keep the game as they know it, and EA loses a good amount of money.
@MS7000 Neither of those things will happen. They'll just put the price of the game up, make buying ultimate team packs more necessary and throw a load more in game advertising at you. Whenever footballers want more money, it's the fan who have to give them it.
If game producers dont pay for likenesses, directly, it should be a crime. It's their face, ask them if you can use their face and pay them what they ask for. Alternatively, don't use their face.
@Big_Fudge Ahh, in which case, that is the fan's fault for being gullible enough to pay such high prices and putting up with advertisements in their games and I feel no sympathy for them. No one is forcing fans to play an inferior product.
@MS7000 Yea stupid gullible kids ey, deserve everything they get...
@Vepra exactly. Embarrassing.
@carlos82 I think this is exactly the point. Thick headed player wakes up after two decades.
YES... slam a few billion dollars of fines on EA effectively shutting down their factory of greed. Then maybe Konami would smell the morning coffee and get the necessary permits to make a great and full featured PES 22 for all consoles and PC.. no more of EA's ***** Legacy garbage.
tbh, I thought about that many times: FIFA is a major franchise from EA, and its profits are huge, and many players probably knew about it, but before asking for money, they were thinking "Wow, I'm in a videogame", "wow, Fifa is a success" without realizing how big someone is profiting with that.
But the raw income is like eight or nine digits. Of course someday someone would realize that "hey, you are getting money with micro transactions using my name!", "hey, I don't remember getting paid for this"...
And that's it. I mean, there's no law saying that "if you don't complain about using your name and image in a game for...5 years, it becomes public domain".
I think that NBA may have a similar issue that someday they'll complain (but maybe they have a better agreement for this image usage... NBA is american, one association to deal with... Fifa has teams from more than 20 countries...
Tennis games are already facing this problem: They can't say "oh, we did an agreement with ATP and now we can use any ATP player". They have to pay for ATP (if they wanna use their name), they have to pay for each grand slam, for each famous player they want to add...
Good old times of International Super Star Soccer and their fake names.
"Beckham is going to earn £40 million and he doesn't even play professionally any more."
And the fact that he doesn't play professionally for any team is why no team has the right to license him out. So if EA wants to use him, they have to negotiate with him directly.
If Ibrahimović wants to retire from playing and then start selling his likeness, he's free to do so. Otherwise, he's bound by the contracts he's signed to play for the team(s) he plays for.
Worth pointing out that: Pro Evo, Football Manager and some of the pay to win mobile games also use the FIFPRO license.
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