EA Sports has suggested FIFA's name could be dropped from its football video game ©Getty Images

EA Sports, the United States-based entity behind the FIFA video game, is considering renaming its football-themed output.

This emerged this week in a statement which followed the launch of the FIFA 22 game and was attributed to Cam Weber, EA Sports' group general manager.

Weber said that the business was "exploring the idea of renaming our global EA Sports football games".

This meant EA was "reviewing our naming rights agreement with FIFA [the sport’s governing body], which is separate from all our other official partnerships and licenses across the football world".

While FIFA’s business model continues to be dominated by the quadrennial men’s World Cup, whose next edition is scheduled for next year in Qatar, licensing rights have become a significant revenue source for the Zurich-based body in non-World Cup years.

In 2020, as much as $158.9 million (£114.4 million/€133.2 million) of FIFA’s $266.5 million (£191.9 million/€223.3 million) of overall revenue - 60 per cent - came from licensing rights.

As FIFA explained at the time, "A key source of revenue in the licensing rights area was brand licensing for video games. 

"In contrast to the many economic sectors that were drastically affected by COVID-19, the video game industry proved far more resilient to the pandemic."

insidethegames described this last March as "potentially a landmark moment for sport", since "this might very well be the first instance in history of a traditional sports governing body generating more in a year from video games than the underlying physical activity that is its raison d’être"

EA Sports’ announcement comes at a time when FIFA is in highly expansionary mood under Gianni Infantino, its Swiss-born President, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

French forward Kylian Mbappé is the FIFA 22 cover star ©Getty Images
French forward Kylian Mbappé is the FIFA 22 cover star ©Getty Images

A proposal to double the frequency of men’s and women’s World Cups to every other year has been the talk of football since last May, when a Saudi Arabian proposal for a feasibility study on the move was approved by the FIFA Congress.

A separate idea for an expanded 24-team Club World Cup had previously surfaced.

Both ideas have encountered significant opposition.

A biennial World Cup could lead to timing issues with the Olympic Games, with both sports mega-events earmarked potentially for the same northern hemisphere summer.

Weber said that since launch a total of 9.1 million players had joined the FIFA 22 game.

He said that 7.6 million "Ultimate Team" squads had been created and 460 million matches played.

Weber went on: "Through years of building our global franchise, we also know that authenticity is essential to the experience.

"That’s why we focus so much energy on the collective strength of over 300 individual licensed partners that give us access to 17,000+ athletes across 700+ teams, in 100 stadiums and over 30 leagues around the world.

"We continually invest in the partnerships and licenses that are most meaningful to players, and because of that, our game is the only place you can authentically play in the iconic UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, CONMEBOL Libertadores, Premier League, Bundesliga, and LaLiga Santander, among many others.

"The breadth of our partnerships and our ecosystem of licensed content will enable us to continue to bring unrivalled authenticity in our EA Sports football games, now and for many years to come."