A top FIFA pro has been banned from competitive play after he was caught using a homophobic slur in a video.
Tassal "Tass" Rushan, a FIFA European Champion from London who plays for well-known esports organisation Faze Clan, published a video to YouTube in which he called a virtual FIFA Ultimate Team card a "fag".
Rushan was upset at repeatedly packing Matías Vecino, a Uruguayan midfielder who plays for Italian club Inter Milan, from Player Picks packs.
"And just like that we're seeing this fucking fag again," he said.
This quote drew the attention of EA Sports, which has now suspended Rushan from FIFA 19 competitive play for an undisclosed time.
In a video published to YouTube, Rushan claimed he didn't know the word "fag" was a homophobic slur because he's from London.
"It's a very unfortunate, unintentional misunderstanding from my end," he said.
"Due to where I've been brought up, the connotation of that word from my perspective until now, it was just another word for prick or idiot. Not even one per cent of me knew it had any type of derogatory connotation towards homosexuality at all.
"First of all, if I knew it did, there is no way I'm saying anything like that. I would never say anything like that, trust me.
"I think some of you guys could back me up on this. Who's from London? Did you know that word had that connotation?"
Rushan then issued an apology:
"I'm not that kind of guy," he said. "Now that I've found out I'll never ever say something like that again.
"I want to apologise to EA. I want to apologise to Faze. I've let EA down, I've let Faze down. I've let myself down. It's not a great situation for me to be in."
And he declared he wants to get back into competitive FIFA play, inspired by his real-life football role models such as ex-Arsenal star Thierry Henry.
"For some reason I might be a role model to some of you," he said. "But I admire role models like Thierry Henry. Everything in his career was not always positive. There were some issues. It was how he responded to them. So, I'm here, I want to respond as positive as possible. I really want to come back."
I am sorry to anyone I offended with what I said, I hold myself to a higher standard & I failed to live by FaZe & EA's code of conduct. It was a wake up call that I need to be more careful with what I say, I'll use it as a learning curve moving ahead, I'll be back competing soon.— Tass (@FaZeTass) November 5, 2018
Whether EA decides to let Rushan play FIFA professionally again is up in the air. EA's code of conduct for the FIFA 19 global series prohibits "harassing, threatening, bullying, engaging in hate speech, repeatedly sending unwanted messages, or making personal attacks or statements about race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, heritage, etc.".
This isn't the first time EA has banned a FIFA pro since FIFA 19 came out. Last month Kurt "Kurt0411" Fenech, from Malta, was banned from competing at esports tournaments for two months for "abusive behaviour" towards FIFA players and others in the community.