In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, publisher Electronic Arts decided to remove all Russian sides from FIFA 22. They won’t have to do the same for FIFA 23, because those teams are never making it into the game in the first place.
In a statement issued to Eurogamer, EA said:
EA Sports stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and like so many voices across the world of football, calls for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine.
In line with our partners at FIFA and UEFA, EA Sports will not include the Russian national team or Russian clubs in FIFA 23.
Previously, FIFA games featured the Russian national team and a handful of club sides, while more recent titles have featured the entire Russian Premier League. Their removal and subsequent absence from the game entirely won’t exactly be a huge deal for anyone outside Russia, especially anyone interested in recreating actual tournaments, because the country’s domestic club sides have already been barred from competing in European-wide competitions after the invasion, while the national team was booted from the World Cup qualification process. They’re not being missed in those tournaments, and they won’t be missed in this game, either.
You might remember that Russia hosted the last World Cup, which took place nine years ago in 2018, and as such were given star billing in both the actual tournament and its accompanying video game. Putin had the time of his life presiding over this soft power triumph, while FIFA’s awarding of the finals to the country was seen as an extremely dodgy move.
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Things are surely better now, right? No. The upcoming Qatar World Cup was awarded in even more corrupt circumstances, to a country that was too hot to host in Summer, can’t offer even the faintest protections for gay fans and built its stadiums on the bodies of thousands of dead slave workers. Ah well!