The world of football has been turned upside down over the past 48 hours with the confirmation that 12 of Europe’s ‘biggest’ clubs are joining the long-mooted Super League.
With no fan consultation, those in power at the naughty rebel clubs dropped their European P45 on the laps of a stunned UEFA, a matter of hours before they were due to reveal plans for a revamped Champions League. A few clubs with notably dusty trophy cabinets, like Tottenham Hotspur, even managed to sneak in there.
This says all you need to know – money is only criteria for entry.
Fans across Europe have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of a move that will make rich clubs even richer, whilst ignoring the needs of clubs further down the footballing pyramid. It seems like football as we know it could be coming to an end. Say goodbye to staples of the European football diet, such as promotion and relegation, and say hello to an MLS style of football franchising!
The impact of the Super League will likely spread to the gaming world, too, meaning EA Sports may get into problems with FIFA 22.
How The Super League Could Impact FIFA 22
Domestic leagues across the world have joined together with UEFA to go nuclear in their response to the proposed Super League. They have stated that clubs will be removed from their domestic leagues if they join the Super League. While these clubs want to play midweek fixtures in the Super League and keep their spots in their domestic leagues, the leagues can chuck them out if they desire.
In FIFA 22, this could affect team names, badges, strips, player names, image rights and so forth.
EA could strike a deal with the Super League to have the competition and its competitors featured in future FIFA releases. If a deal can’t be reached, Pro Evolution Soccer series fans may have a good chuckle. The go-to argument for FIFA diehards in the eternal PES/FIFA debate has been the lack of official league, team and player licenses in PES, particularly in their older releases. The tables turning somewhat would be greatly ironic.
Get ready for the indignity of manually replacing names like London Blues with Chelsea and staring at cookie-cutter generic faces seemingly unrelated to the players they are supposed to represent!
However, it would not be the first time FIFA fans have had a brush with this concept. In FIFA 21, Juventus and Roma were named Piemonte Calcio and Rome FC respectively. This was down to an exclusive deal they held with Konami.
Career Mode and Kick-Off could also be affected. If the teams leave their domestic leagues, then this would also have to be reflected in game. Super League teams may be thrown into a category of teams much like the ‘Rest of the World’ group now.
This then has a knock-on impact on FIFA Ultimate Team and what players link and get chemistry.
There is a glimmer of hope for FIFA fans, though. EA Sports have licensing deals with many domestic leagues, and one way it obtains rights is through FIFPro.
FIFPro is a players union that operates on a not-for-profit basis across the world.
In November 2020, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale headed a group of stars in questioning whether gaming companies had the right to use their likenesses without compensation.
FIFPro responded, via Mirror Football, saying: “FIFPRO wishes to clarify the manner in which it obtains the image rights of players and its role in defending the employment rights of professional footballers worldwide. FIFPRO, … acquires image rights via player unions in nearly 60 countries. These rights are made available to Electronic Arts and other clients in the video gaming industry. FIFPRO’s relationship with the video gaming companies complements separate arrangements they directly agree with clubs, leagues, governing bodies and individual players.”
Since the Super League announcement, FIFPro released a statement suggesting they would still manage image rights. This could result in Super League players likenesses still appearing in FIFA. EA does also have exclusive deals in place with some Super League rebels, notably Liverpool, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Inter Milan. However, it is still uncertain whether or not these deals will still remain intact if they are kicked out of UEFA and FIFA competitions.
While nothing seems certain in these seismic days in European football, there is one thing we can count on – an avalanche of legal battles for many years.
UEFA, FIFA, domestic leagues, fans and hopefully some plucky managers and players, will not go down without an almighty fight.