A professional FIFA player who was also an outspoken critic of EA has quit the game after receiving a ban.
Kurt "Kurt0411" Fenech, from Malta, was banned from competing at EA's FIFA 19 esports tournaments for two months for "abusive behaviour" towards FIFA players and others in the community.
Fenech published a reaction video to his YouTube channel, below, saying: "Maybe I'm in the wrong, maybe I'm not, but one thing's for certain: this is definitely the end of the road for me."
In a follow-up statement published on Twitter, Fenech hit out at EA, vowing: "I obviously won't let them get away with this."
Fenech said he planned to seek legal advice, although to what end is unclear. We've asked him for additional comment. (UPDATE: Fenech responded to Eurogamer over email with the following statement: "All I'm going to say is if they're going to ban me for 'personal attacks' then loads of others should have got banned as well but they didn't. The ban is completely unjustified and we will see what happens in the future but this is far far from over.")
Fenech is well-known within the FIFA community for being a highly-skilled player, but also one of EA's most outspoken critics.
During a high-profile tournament earlier this year, he walked out mid-match after conceding what's known as a "kick-off goal" - a goal that is considered cheap by many and exploiting the game by some.
In a series of videos on his YouTube channel, Fenech criticised EA, FIFA and others in the competitive community. He has repeatedly highlighted issues with the game that prevent it from being "esports ready", and has singled out FIFA esports community members who have failed to echo his feelings publicly.
In tweets, Fenech called players "pussies", has called FIFA 19 and FIFA 18 a "pile of shit" and called a FIFA esports team manager a "bum... who does nothing more than ass lick at every opportunity he gets".
Bunch of pussies tweeting oh look at me I’m fut champs verified. Call it like it is: this game should have never been released as is, on top of the shambolic gameplay I had to play half of my games with disgusting lag on “ dedicated servers”. Absolutely embarrassing pic.twitter.com/uUM0JwQr7B— Kurt (@Kurt0411Fifa) October 7, 2018
I know this is like comparing which pile of shit is better but I’m curious: which “game” do you think is better?— Kurt (@Kurt0411Fifa) October 15, 2018
oh god you gonna start screenshotting already? bum "manager" who does nothing more than ass lick at every opportunity he gets— Kurt (@Kurt0411Fifa) September 28, 2018
In a video Fenech pulled from his own YouTube channel in August, but re-uploaded, below, he declared a "war" on EA and FIFA influencers, vowing to "get the game we deserve". He also ran pictures of FIFA YouTubers, players and influencers, calling one a "coward", another "washed up", another a "one event wonder" and another desperate to get back into EA's "good books".
In his statement, Fenech said he believes the real reason for his ban is because of his criticism of FIFA 19 itself, as opposed to insults directed at individuals.
"My words cut deeper than anyone's because the truth hurts more than anything," he said. "Some disagreed with the way I went about it, fair enough, but I had the right to voice my opinion even if it means upsetting certain people."
EA said Fenech was guilty of "repeated" code of conduct violations it has in place for the FIFA 19 global series - and it's shown no sign of reversing the decision.
Fenech's ban has hit on a wider issue that has coursed through the FIFA community for a number of years now: whether the game is "esports ready".
FIFA is of course known for containing a raft of sometimes hilarious, other times frustrating bugs as the game buckles in certain situations. But there is also a feeling there is too much that is random about FIFA for it to be played as an esport.