EA Sports Finally Includes Female Soccer Players In FIFA 16 Video Game


For the first time in the history of the franchise, EA Sports has announced that female soccer players will be available in FIFA 16 out on September 22, 2015. You guys, this is HUGE news! There will be 12 national teams to choose from, and each of the star players featured took part in a motion capture filming process to portray an accurate likeness of them on the field in the game, like they do with the male players.

So why is this such big news? Because even though statistics show women make up roughly half of all gamers today, it’s very rare to find equal portrayals of women in some of the top rated games. According to 2015 stats, the FIFA franchise is no.9 in a list of the most played games in the world, and is the 3rd biggest sports video game (sometimes referred to as e-sports).

This bold step toward equality in an industry that has wrestled a lot with the rise of the female gamer presence (as seen in the gamergate scandal) wasn’t just an overnight decision, and we should be thankful for women who have raised their voices to make this happen.

Back in 2013 a Floridian woman Fernanda Schabarum started a Change.org petition to get EA sports to include female players in this popular franchise. She brought up some important information such as FIFA 12 holding the record for the fastest selling sports game ever with over 3.3 million games sold and $186 million made in its first week of release. That statistic alone makes it one of the most formidable video game franchises on earth.

EA sports executive producer of the FIFA series David Rutter responded to the petition saying they receive an overwhelming amount of suggestions for inclusion in every edition of the game, and including female players is one that they have on the table. Well they have finally delivered, and at a good time, it seems, because the women’s World Cup will be held during the summer in Canada.


“Bringing some of the best women’s players and teams in the world to our franchise is a massive event for EA SPORTS, and we are equally excited about bringing millions of fans a new way to play. We’re making sure fans get an authentic experience when playing with Women’s National Teams thanks to our innovative player capture and reference tools, as well as the sophisticated gameplay platform which we will continue to innovate on in FIFA 16,” said David Rutter about the game in a statement.

US national player Alex Morgan who is featured in the game was interviewed by EA Sports and shared her thoughts on why this decision in momentous.

“It is such an honor for women’s players and our team to be included in FIFA 16. I always wondered what it would be like to see our team in the game and it is very cool to know that it is now a reality,” she said.

“I grew up being inspired by US Women’s National Team “greats” like Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm and my current teammate, Abby Wambach. Watching them inspire a generation of girls during the ’99 World Cup was incredible. In turn, we are inspired daily by the girls that support us and strive to be in our shoes one day. I was once that little girl and I know how important it was to me to have role models for me to emulate on and off the field.”

The negative side to this news is that there have been a small section of society, we’d like to call whiny men, who were outraged at the fact that women are now included in their beloved FIFA game, and are “interfering in everything” as one whiner so eloquently wrote on Twitter. We say a “small section” because the truth is there are plenty of men on this earth who don’t think their masculinity is threatened by the inclusion of female soccer players in a video game. Anyway, that’s enough mention of the negative side to this announcement, progress is happening in the name of equality and we’re happy about that!


It’s a smart move for EA Sports to include women in an already-popular game, rather than launching a separate women’s franchise. It will give players a chance to get used to the women’s teams and allow EA to determine whether to continue this in future editions.

There is always a lot of talk about why women’s sports in general around the world don’t get the same type of coverage that men’s sport does. It becomes a cyclical argument about not getting enough women’s events broadcast because networks claim audiences don’t want to watch. Sponsors say they don’t want to pay the big bucks for women’s sports broadcast events because the audiences aren’t there. Which leads back to the networks saying they also don’t want to broadcast the events because they don’t have the big sponsorships like in the men’s events. It’s enough to do your head in!

Thankfully there have been major strides being made not only in women’s soccer, but in women’s sports in general. In the 2012 documentary ‘Ready To Fly’ we see an inside look into what it takes to get equality for women’s sports. Champion ski jumper Lindsey Van, whose records and titles include some which outrank men, petitions for women to be able to compete in the sport in the Olympics. Up until that time women were not allowed to compete in ski jumping at an Olympic level which she found outrageous. It meant she, as a pro athlete, could never earn the same amount of money as a male ski jumper because they would hit a ceiling in their career. Her hard work paid off because in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, women were allowed to compete in the ski jumping event for the first time!

In the lead up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup held in Canada where 24 teams will compete for arguably the biggest and most prestigious sports title in the world, the FIFA 16 game announcement comes as a ray of hope against a backdrop of corruption, scandal and inequality in the governing body of international football.

The US Justice Department has launched a major and complicated investigation against FIFA alleging they have been involved in major corruption over the years. It came at a crucial time, when FIFA president elections were being held and many accusing newly-elected Sep Blatter of spearheading many of these allegations. He will begin his fifth term as FIFA president, a move which many are disappointed about.


However corruption isn’t the only scandal to hit FIFA. Many international female players were outraged that they were going to be the guinea pigs to FIFA’s desire to start using artificial turf on football fields instead of grass. A class-action case was launched by many international female players, some of whom were forced to drop their support of the case when their country’s football association threatened them with exclusion.

While there has been no ruling on the case, some of the women say the fact that this case was getting a lot of attention is a major step forward for their voices being heard.

” Regardless of what our federation or anyone else thinks about it, if you want change you have to use your voice. It gets frustrating when you’ve been through other issues in the women’s game and wanted things to change or improve and we’ve backed down because we’ve been suppressed or told that we shouldn’t do this, or we should be silent about something,” said England player Anita Asante about the case.

“It is also about feeling like you are valued and not a guinea pig for someone else’s experiment. It’s just another struggle, amidst a lot of other struggles related to women and our value and trying to get more equality in lots of other aspects. We were making a statement, making a point, letting our voices be heard, so other people can continue to voice the same things in the future.”

On a positive note, the Guardian points out this upcoming World Cup is already a game-changer for women with the news of more broadcasters than ever signing up for the rights to show matches, the inclusion of professional chefs for the players, and the women being flown around in business class (some countries have even forked out a private jet for their national team).

So while the internet could keep paying attention to a bunch of whiners who think having women play in FIFA 16 is an abomination, there are much bigger issues at stake in the real world of soccer. Progress is slowly being made and while FIFA 16 is only a video game, in the grand scheme of things is it a vital part of the battle for women in sports looking to claim an equal stake in something they have worked hard for.

Check out the video trailer for the game below:

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