FIFA 19 has a new cover, and previous cover star Cristiano Ronaldo has been dropped.
The Juventus and Portugal star was the main man when it came to FIFA 19, appearing on the front of the box and in the game's main menus. Here's how it looked:
Now, five months after FIFA 19 came out, EA has decided to give the game a new cover, and has replaced Ronaldo with fellow Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, Brazil star Neymar and Manchester City's midfield maestro Kevin de Bruyne. Here's how it looks:
Going into the game itself, EA has updated the log-in page and the main menu to scrub Ronaldo from its virtual innards, replacing him with images of the aforementioned trio as well as US women's soccer star Alex Morgan.
It's a curious decision to trigger a full in-game rebrand of FIFA 19, removing Ronaldo completely from promotional material. An EA spokesperson issued Eurogamer a statement the refresh was linked to the Champions League, although it's worth pointing out Ronaldo is still very much a part of this season's tournament and plays for one of the favourites.
"With the UEFA Champions League coming to EA Sports FIFA 19 this year, we have a unique opportunity to offer a range of new content to players that reflects the real-world excitement of football," reads the statement. "We often celebrate different talent across our sports games, and with the UEFA Champions League knockout stages underway we are featuring some of the biggest stars in football and bringing new players a range of content to get excited about."
It's been a controversial few months for Ronaldo, however. Back in October 2018, EA said it was "closely monitoring" the situation following rape allegations made against the Portuguese. Ronaldo was accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga, who claimed he assaulted her in Las Vegas in 2009. Ronaldo has denied the accusation, calling it "fake news".
Last month, Las Vegas police sent a warrant in Italy requesting a sample of Ronaldo's DNA.
"Mr. Ronaldo has always maintained, as he does today, that what occurred in Las Vegas in 2009 was consensual in nature, so it is not surprising that DNA would be present, nor that the police would make this very standard request as part of their investigation," Ronaldo's attorney Peter S. Christiansen told CNN on 10th January.
Then, on 22nd January, Ronaldo cut a deal with a court in Madrid over tax evasion charges, accepting an €18.8m (£16.6m) fine.
The deal included a 23-month jail sentence, but in Spain convicts do not usually do time for sentences under two years, according to the BBC.
In an email to Eurogamer issued last October, an EA spokesperson stopped short of saying the publisher planned to ditch Ronaldo as FIFA 19 cover star, but called the report in German magazine Der Spiegel "concerning".
"We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo. We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA's values."
Back then, FIFA fans had picked up on a recent change to the EA Sports FIFA Twitter banner, which swapped an image of Ronaldo for an image of the FIFA 19 logo with accompanying review quotes.
However, the EA spokesperson told Eurogamer the company updates its social banners for certain marketing beats.
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