Super League: FIFA, PES, Football Manager Fans Question What It Means for Games

The world of top-level football (or soccer, depending on where you are) is in turmoil today after the announcement of The Super League. The proposed breakaway organisation has caused huge divisions within the sport’s leagues and governing bodies – and the knock-on for video games based on football could be seismic if it went ahead. Fans of the games are already making themselves heard on the issue.

The Super League was announced on Sunday, April 18 in a joint statement from 12 of the world’s richest clubs, and intends to bring together 15 permanent members and 5 yearly qualifying teams to make up a 20-strong group that plays games alongside the traditional domestic leagues. However, opposition to the plan – which would reward the richest clubs in the world, likely at the cost of the rest of the football pyramid – has been widespread. At time of writing, FIFA and UEFA (the world and European governing bodies for football respectively) have condemned the plans, and sanctions could include any participating clubs and players being banned from existing national and international competitions.

While the news is still very fresh, with negotiations and preparations for legal action ongoing, it’s clear that those sanctions – if they did come to fruition – could fundamentally affect video games based on the sport, both in terms of game structure and licensing. Many fans are already contacting the developers of FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, and Football Manager, even asking for the teams involved to be removed from the games in protest at the news.

Across fan communities on Twitter and Reddit, questions about the future of the games are rolling in. Wawan Su asked EA Sports, “What [does] the future hold for FIFA game franchise? I mean, 50% of FIFA players might be fan of one of those 12 clubs”, while Karl Roberts was more downbeat, saying, “well that’s ultimate team killed off with the European super league not being backed by fifa.” On the flip side, many PES fans are actively asking Konami to pick up the license to the mooted new league to spite FIFA, with C.K. writing “you guys better get the rights to the clubs in the Super League. I need a reason to leave @EASPORTSFIFA behind.”

Others are asking the developers to protest the news, with theJackal on Twitter writing to the FIFA team to say, “can you please immediately remove all the ‘Super’ league teams from your game”, and Lloyd Woods contacting Sports Interactive to say, “if this super league happens, please please please do not include it any future games!!?”

While the Super League is by no means a done deal – with many observers seeing it as more of a bargaining chip for the clubs involved than a realistic possibility, the very fact that an announcement has been made will be a cause of interest and concern for the creators of the world’s biggest football games. IGN has contacted the creators of FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer, and Football Manager for comment.

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With nothing set in stone, the implications of such a move going ahead are entirely speculative, but the potential knock-on effects to the games are very interesting. EA Sports’ FIFA, one of the world’s largest game series, could be fundamentally affected by the move. With its license tied directly to the football governing body, EA Sports’ series is bound by the competitions organised by FIFA and its partners – the proposed Super League may not be recognised by FIFA and, as such, would almost certainly not appear in the game.

If players and teams in the new league were to be banned from existing national and international football competitions, FIFA could potentially lose some of the most-used clubs in the game, as well as its biggest stars. That’s to say nothing of the effect on the game’s controversial Ultimate Team mode, which has effectively monetised players yearning for the world’s best footballers – with superstars of the sport gone, Ultimate Team would lose one its key hooks. EA has not yet commented on the situation.

Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer is far less tied to football’s real-world organisations, but does still license leagues, clubs, and player likenesses, all of which could be affected by the Super League’s breakaway, particularly if disputes emerge between individual parties. On the other hand, developer Konami has acquired exclusive licenses in PES that FIFA could then not use – most famously, Juventus (one of the Super League clubs, incidentally) is totally exclusive to PES. There’s a possible future in which Konami sees this as an opportunity to secure the Super League license that EA’s association with FIFA prevents it from holding – a potential major factor in the rival games’ popularities. Konami told IGN it had no comment on the situation.

Sports Interactive’ Football Manager is likely to be least affected by the Super League, with its somewhat holistic view of world football tied less to individual players and licenses. However, the effects of the Super League and any potential punishments meted out to those involved, could very much change how future installments of the game would play. Sports Interactive has not yet commented on the situation, with Football Manager director Miles Jacobson tweeting to say he won’t be tweeting more about it today, bur that there’s “a long way to go” on such a deal.

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Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. He’s a Spurs fan, and is extremely unhappy about all this. Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

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