Russia Is Being Banned From All Future FIFA Games

By Jason Collins | Published

fifa 2022

Following up on a previous announcement regarding the removal of Russian sports teams from nearly all Electronic Arts sports games, EA Sports and FIFA just announced that the teams of Russia wouldn’t be in FIFA 23, and in all likelihood, any of the foreseeable sequels as well. This decision stems from the company and organization’s respective solidarity for the Ukrainian people following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

According to Kotaku, FIFA 23’s developer, Electronic Arts, said that the Russian national team and all clubs from Russia won’t be in FIFA 23 from the game’s launch. This is just one of many actions Electronic Arts has taken in protest of the invasion, considering that the company previously announced it would stop all game sales and content, including virtual currency and bundles (has Hell frozen over?), in Russia and its ally Belarus, during the course of the invasion. The company even stopped selling Russia items in Ultimate Team, FIFA’s hugely popular loot-box fueled mode.

This is somewhat of a huge shift, considering that Russia makes up 10% of the overall gaming market. FIFA games have previously featured Russian national teams and a handful of club sides, but more recent iterations of the game have featured an entire Russian Premier League. Admittedly, the removal of Russian and Belarus teams from FIFA 23 won’t really affect anyone outside Russia. Gamers usually like to recreate tournaments, and considering that Russian teams have been banned from real-life sports events, their absence from the game won’t be noticed.

This may only affect Russian FIFA fans. Considering that EA pulled games and services from sales in Russia, this begs the question of how would it affect Russian players if they don’t have access to the game? Well, Russia has one of the world’s strongest and most developed game-hacking and digital-piracy communities, and there’s no doubt that they’ll make the game work for the domestic market. In response to this transgression against its gamers, the Russian gaming scene even announced the development of its own gaming engine.

With everything said, one would think that EA’s removal of Russian teams from their games is a commendable move and that the company has transcended its aggressive monetization practices. However, scratching past the surface, EA decided not to go as far as to remove prominent ads for Gazprom — a Russian state-owned energy firm that supplies half of Europe with earth gas — which also happens to be one of FIFA games’ sponsors. It even refrained from commenting on the exclusion of Russian sponsors, or lack thereof.

On an even more interesting note, FIFA and EA Games announced their divorce after a fruitful 30-years-long marriage and a massive slew of sports titles. EA announced that FIFA 23 would be the final FIFA title released under the company’s publishing, and starting next year, the most prominent soccer franchise would be renamed EA Sports FC. The future of FIFA games under the organization’s banner remains unknown, considering that Take-Two Interactive has previously shut down the possibility of working with the International Federation of Association Football.