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NWSL in FIFA 23: players outraged at “offensive” portrayals of appearances in the game

The NWSL coming to FIFA 23 is huge, but the mistakes are terribly poor from EA Sports, and the players have noticed.

NWSL llega al FIFA 23 y el futbol femenino sigue creciendo en Estados Unidos

One step forward in the world of women’s football is very rarely met without, if not a step or two, at least a glance backwards. This time, it’s a long, hard look back and what on earth EA Sports were thinking when they decided on putting the NWSL players in the game without taking into account simple things such as hair colour, facial features, or, in one case, having hair at all.

It must be said that the inclusion of more women footballers in football’s most popular video game is something that is long overdue. A select number of international teams have been included over the past few editions (although the player reproductions still look like the result of trying to draw a Picasso painting in a dark room) and that is obviously a step in the right direction. With the game’s latest update in March 2023, the NWSL as well as the Women’s UEFA Champions League were added to the game. Now, children and adults of all ages can play with players with at least the same name as their female heroes, if not their faces.

The results can be seen for themselves, along with the reactions of some of the players who, obviously, did not take the news well that their online avatars in one of the world’s biggest and most successful online games took little to no regard in terms of replicating their appearances. Angel City FC forward, Sydney Leroux, was one of the most vocal voices online:

Official statement from the Players’ Association

The Players’ Association, the NWSLPA, released a statement via CNN, saying: “We insist on immediate action from EA to rectify the offensive and inauthentic portrayals of players of color in FIFA 23, which were released yesterday... The NWSL Players Association, alongside our agent OneTeam Partners, has a dedicated gaming team actively working with EA to resolve this matter”, said NWSLPA executive director Meghann Burke.

Here are some more examples of just how badly EA messed up, and how the players reacted:

Let’s not end on a sad story...

But seriously, EA Sports. Try better next time.

Anyway, I don’t want to end on a bad note about something that’s generally positive. The thing is, it wasn’t all bad, like KC Current and ‘celly’ queen Lo’eau LaBonta’s newest idea!


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