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Ukraine crisis: EA removes Russian teams from Fifa 22

Image source, Getty Images

Games publisher Electronic Arts will remove the Russian national team and all other Russian teams from Fifa 22 and associated games, it has announced.

It was doing so to “stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people”, the company tweeted.

It comes as football’s governing bodies Fifa and Uefa said Russia’s national side and clubs would be banned from all competitions.

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Ukraine has asked the video games industry to do more.

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Russia attacks Ukraine: More coverage

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The country’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on all game-development companies and esport platforms to block Russian and Belarusian accounts, cancel tournaments and ban players.

Electronic Arts tweeted: “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 [the International Federation of Association Football] and Uefa [the Union of European Football Associations], EA Sports has initiated processes to remove the Russian national team and all Russian clubs from EA Sports Fifa products including Fifa 22, Fifa Mobile and Fifa online.

“We’re also actively evaluating related changes to other areas of our games.”

It has also removed Russian and Belarusian teams from NHL 22 games.

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Analysis box by Steffan Powell, Gaming reporter

Who you play as is an essential element of Fifa, as people live out their sporting dreams from home.

Being suddenly unable to choose to play as your country or your favourite club will fundamentally alter the experience that many Russian gamers can have with a game they love. A game they’ve already paid for.

Electronic Arts has also made a similar move with its NHL ice hockey franchise.

Given that gigs, movie releases and sporting events have already been cancelled in Russia, it was only a matter of time before the gaming industry got involved.

We’ve already seen games companies fundraising, esports events banning Russian teams and messages of solidarity with the people of Ukraine on social media – but this is the first step that will impact millions of gamers in one go.

Whether it goes far enough for Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, who called on the gaming industry to take action on Wednesday, we wait and see – but expect this to be the first move from gaming’s major players, with more measures likely in the days to come.

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