EA and FIFA’s 30-year videogame union at risk in battle over name

Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan reacts in front of an EA Sports <em>FIFA 21</em> video game billboard advertising during the Series A football match between AC Milan and Torino FC in 2021.

Enlarge / Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan reacts in front of an EA Sports FIFA 21 video game billboard advertising during the Series A football match between AC Milan and Torino FC in 2021. (credit: Nicolò Campo | LightRocket | Getty Images)

For millions of football fans, “FIFA” refers not to the sport’s international governing body, but to their favorite video game.

The connection was formed 30 years ago, when California-based Electronic Arts licensed the name of Zurich-headquartered FIFA. The game is now played by 100 million people worldwide, has become a multibillion-dollar business, and is a cultural phenomenon.

Despite the long and profitable association, the two sides are in a bitter dispute over the value of the FIFA name. “We are not certain that we will move forward with FIFA as a naming rights partner,” David Jackson, a senior executive who runs EA’s football brand, told the Financial Times.

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