“EA Sports Is Not a Charity Foundation”- Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Agent in the Latest Episode of FIFA 21 Image Rights Row

Published 11/28/2020, 11:08 AM EST
MILAN, ITALY – JULY 15: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan reacts during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Parma Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on July 15, 2020 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)


EA Sports’ FIFA 21 has already become the finest entry in the franchise. But it has also attracted attention for all the wrong reasons.

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The Zlatan Ibrahimovic versus EA Sports war over image rights took a turn for the worse. It all started when reports surfaced of David Beckham receiving a hefty price from EA over a course of three years, which upset a lot of other players.

FIFA, for a long time, has used officially licensed player likeness within its games. However, Zlatan didn’t seem very impressed with this idea and took to Twitter to question this concept’s legitimacy.

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Spurs winger Gareth Bale later joined Zlatan’s rally and gave birth to the hashtag TimeToInvestigate, insinuating that FIFA was using player likenesses for its own purposes.

In a recent interview, Zlatan’s superagent Mino Raiola was in conversation with the former owner of Crystal Palace, Simon Jordan. Both men went back and forth before Mino claimed that “it’s all about money.”

The row over FIFA 21 image rights continues

Jordan suggested in the latter half of the conversation that Mino’s actions were targeted towards extorting money via player licensing.

“This is either about stopping using Zlatan’s image, or it’s about money. I suspect it’s about money.”

This comment vexed Mino, who responded by saying, “EA Sports is not a charity foundation… This is about money. This is about who can exploit whose rights. And it’s a principle. And why we don’t do things before or after is a call we will make and we don’t need to explain now.”

Mino is trying to say that only Zlatan owns his image rights, and EA Sports can’t access them without his consent.

EA Sports, on the flip side, suggests it holds contractual rights to the likeness of all players after signing a deal with AC Milan. As with Gareth Bale, who is now on loan to an English club, EA Sports’ contract with Premier League gives them complete access to use the player images.

Mino gets furious over a ‘commission insinuation’

The conversation seemed to have gone well up to this point. However, Jordan’s comment that Mino’s remarks were purely based on carving out a commission did not sit well with him.

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“What this is about is someone like you popping up saying, we’re missing an opportunity here and ultimately I can monetize that, and of course I’ll be paid a commission on that. And Beckham’s just been paid forty million quid.”

Mino hung up after this comment, lighting another spark in the row.

EA for years has relied on data from league licenses. This enables them to use club and player rights. And that’s exactly how Gareth Bale’s likeness has been utilized by EA.

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This debate for sure has some legs now. If Zlatan decides on taking EA to court, or if all the players suddenly pull out of the current collective approach, EA will be forced to employ generic images and data. Zoltan Abrohimovic, perhaps.

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Nakul Ahuja

396 articles

Nakul Ahuja is an Esports author at EssentiallySports. He has spent 11 years doing theatre and is currently preparing for his Master's degree in Journalism. Along the way, he hopes to rake in money as Ninja does.

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