Video game forced to remove 13 female athletes from their player roster
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
No good deed goes unpunished, as video game developer Electronic Arts (EA) found out earlier this month. In an effort to make their vastly popular FIFA franchise more gender equal, EA decided to include popular female soccer players into their FIFA 16 title. Unfortunately, due to a conflict with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), EA was forced to remove 13 female players from their video game roster.
Interest in women’s soccer has been increasing on a global level, with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) reporting a 30 per cent increase in attendance since the last World Cup.
EA’s decision to include the female players was in an effort to reflect and encourage this,making FIFA 16 the first in the long FIFA franchise to include players from both the NWSL and NSL (National Soccer League). The game was released on September 22. Unfortunately, right before the game’s initial release, the NCAA claimed that 13 of the chosen female athletes that were set to appear in the game would be “…risking their eligibility for collegiate athletics by being included in FIFA 16,” according to a press release given by EA.
EA rebutted the claim, stating in the same press release: “We do not agree with this position. All rights were secured following standard protocol with national governing bodies and federations, and none of these NCAA student-athletes or potential student athletes were to be individually compensated by EA Sports for their inclusion in the game.” Student athletes are not allowed to individually profit from use of their image rights according to the NCAA rules.
Basically, what this translates to is the NCAA threatening to revoke or refuse membership status for 13 female players if EA released the game without removing said players, making them ineligible to play under or receive any sort of athletic scholarships if they planned to attend school in the United States.
Though EA was very adamant that they disagreed with the NCAA decision, they complied and removed the players in question. Due to this, popular Canadian athletes Kadeisha Buchanan, Jessie Fleming, Ashley Lawrence, Janine Beckie, Rebecca Quinn, and Sura Yekka, along with six student athletes from Mexico and one from Spain, were all removed from the game prior to release.
The NCAA’s rules regarding student athletes profiting from use of their image has repeatedly come under scrutiny from the public—mostly due to the fact the NCAA repeatedly sells the publicity rights of certain student athletes to secure profit for itself. This is often done without the athlete’s knowledge, and they receive no compensation for it. Recently, former NCAA star Ed O’Bannon, along with a group of other former collegiate athletes, took legal action and enacted a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA, in an effort to change the association’s licencing practices regarding the use of its members’ images and likenesses. In total, the NCAA’s current contracts regarding use of their athletes’ images are estimated to be worth over four billion dollars.