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Earlier this week, AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic questioned EA Sports‘ right to use his image in its FIFA games.
He tweeted that nobody should be able to sell or purchase his image rights without his permission, and claimed he was not a member of global players union FifPro, one of the third parties EA deals with to secure image rights.
In response to Ibrahimovic’s tweet, Spurs forward Gareth Bale wrote: “Interesting… what is FIFPro?” before adding the hashtag #TimeToInvestigate.
Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola told The Telegraph that around 300 players are now considering legal action over the use of their likenesses in FIFA titles.
“It is not attacking the quality of EA Sports; it is attacking the system,” Raiola said. “The system is wrong and that is a fight that Zlatan wants to take for all players. What will happen? We will fight until there is clarity and we will bring the fight to court.”
In a statement, EA claimed it had secured contractual rights to include the likeness of all players in its titles through deals with leagues, clubs, and individual players, something Raiola disputes.
“EA Sports’ declarations say they have made deals with people who have the rights but it is from people who are saying they have something they don’t have,” the agent said. “It’s like you are selling my house but it’s not yours. Where I am irritated is that EA Sports knew this for a long time and they need to stop putting their heads in the sand.”
He added: “The question is very simple: Fifa and Fifpro are profiting from the rights that EA Sports happily buy from them but they buy rights that they don’t have. The individual image rights of the player are not with Fifa, FifPro or AC Milan. They belong to the player himself.”
EA Sports issued the following statement: “We are aware of discussions around licensing of players in EA SPORTS FIFA. The current situation being played out on social media is an attempt to draw FIFA 21 into a dispute between a number of third parties and has little to do with EA SPORTS. To be very clear, we have contractual rights to include the likeness of all players currently in our game. As already stated, we acquire these licenses directly from leagues, teams, and individual players.
“In addition, we work with FifPro to ensure we can include as many players as we can to create the most authentic game. In these instances, our rights to player likenesses are granted through our club agreement with AC Milan and our long-standing exclusive partnership with the Premier League, which includes all players for Tottenham Hotspur.”