Image: EA

EA has confirmed that it is launching an internal investigation into allegations that one of its staff sold FIFA Ultimate Team cards for thousands of euros in cash (thanks, Eurogamer).

The scandal – which now has its own hashtag on Twitter, "EAGate" – began when unconfirmed direct messages appeared online which suggested that an EA employee was selling FIFA Ultimate Team "Icon" cards for between 750 euros (around £642 / $895) and 1000 euros (£856 / $1,194). In another message – again, unconfirmed – three "Prime Icon Moments" cards were offered for sale at an eye-watering 1700 euros (£1455 / $2,300).

Icon and Icon Moments cards are some of the rarest in the game, and players spend insane amounts of real-world money via IAP in the hope of unearthing them. While FIFA Ultimate Team has always allowed players to trade goods in FIFA via FUT Coins – FIFA's in-game currency – this is the first time we've seen an allegation that cards have been offered for real-world cash.

EA's statement shows the company is taking the matter seriously, but it has created more bad press for a game that has come under fire more than once for essentially promoting gambling. Earlier this week, we reported that there are proposals afoot that would ensure that games with loot boxes – like FIFA 21 – would carry an 18+ rating in Germany.