FIFA has issued a statement following reports its negotiations with EA have hit an impasse, saying it believes football gaming and esports "must involve more than one party controlling and exploiting all rights".
Earlier this week, a report by the New York Times suggested EA's recent surprise announcement that it was "exploring the idea of renaming" its long-running FIFA football game series comes at a time when its licence renewal negotiations with FIFA have stalled as the two parties struggle to agree on specifics.
One area of disagreement is said to be financial - with FIFA reportedly looking to more than double the cost of its licence to over $1 billion USD for each four-year World Cup cycle - but the report also claimed EA is keen to explore other avenues using the FIFA licence, such as video game tournaments and digital products like NFTs, while FIFA wants to limit the scope of the deal to pursue new opportunities itself.
Following that report, a newly issued statement from FIFA has made its position abundantly clear, with the organisation saying it believes football gaming and eSports "needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights."
"Technology and mobile companies are now actively competing to be associated with FIFA, its platforms, and global tournaments," the statement reads. "Consequently, FIFA is engaging with various industry players, including developers, investors and analysts, to build out a long-term view of the gaming, eSports and interactive entertainment sector." FIFA says these discussions will help provide a "range of suitable parties with specialist capabilities to actively shape the best possible experiences and offerings" for consumers and fans.
"Gaming and eSports are the fastest-growing media verticals on the planet, with new and diverse types of games launching continuously," it says. "It is therefore of crucial importance for FIFA and its stakeholders to maximise all future opportunities for football and gaming fans...FIFA also has a duty to support its 211 member associations to fully capitalise on the inherent opportunities that have been emerging over the recent years. As part of this strategy, FIFA also commits to continuing to organise skill-based eSports tournaments under the umbrella of the recently launched FIFAe competition structure and consumer brand."
The organisation adds it's "excited about using the FIFA World Cup...and FIFA Women's World Cup...as platforms to launch and integrate exciting new games and eSports offerings."
For EA's part, a recently spotted trademark filing suggests it could be readying ditch the FIFA moniker in favour of "EA Sports FC" for its football games. The publisher has also confirmed it'll be renewing its contract with FIFPRO - which would enable it to continue using "thousands of player names and likenesses" alongside various official leagues - in order to help it "deliver the greatest, most authentic football [video game] experience".