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Sega’s Football Manager to include professional women’s soccer

Developer Sports Interactive promises a multiyear, multimillion-dollar effort

Manchester United Women v Everton Women - Barclays FA Women’s Super League
Ella Toone of Manchester United Women (right) slips by Hayley Raso of Everton Women in Women’s Super League action on May 9. Both are competing in the Tokyo Olympics (Toone for England; Raso for Australia).
Photo: James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Future editions of Sega and Sports Interactive’s acclaimed Football Manager simulation franchise will include professional women’s soccer, the publisher and developer announced Friday. The studio said it has begun a multiyear project expected to cost “in the millions.”

Sports Interactive has not set a completion date or launch window for women’s soccer. “The intention is to incorporate the women’s game soon as realistically possible,” the companies said in a news release.

“Sports Interactive’s development team is committed to ensuring that women’s football is represented as authentically as possible and with the level of realism and attention to detail that the series is renowned for,” the statement added, “and will not announce a launch date until these standards have been met.”

Sports Interactive has developed Football Manager since 2004, with Sega as publisher since then, too. Unlike EA Sports’ FIFA series or Konami’s eFootball (née Pro Evolution Soccer) franchise, Football Manager’s gameplay is largely in evaluating and acquiring talented players, developing and fielding a competitive team, and observing the result of those efforts as a simulation.

The series has won widespread praise for the depth of its simulation and the rich experience of operating a professional football club. Sega says it has sold more than 33 million copies over Football Manager’s 17-year life span.

Previously, women’s soccer has appeared in Football Manager thanks to the efforts of modders. In Friday’s announcement, Sports Interactive made it clear that it was giving women’s soccer the prestige and exposure of the overall Football Manager nameplate, and not spinning it off as a stand-alone game to be ignored.

“We have NO interest whatsoever in making a standalone women’s football version of FM,” Miles Jacobson, Sports Interactive’s studio director, said in a statement. He went on to say, “We know that adding women’s football to FM is going to cost in the millions and that the short-term return it delivers will be minimal. But that’s not the point. There’s no hiding that there’s currently a glass ceiling for women’s football and we want to do what we can to help smash through it.”

EA Sports’ FIFA series has, since 2015, included women’s national teams in its roster of play-now teams, and in a stand-alone tournament mode. EA also added a Women’s World Cup-branded mode as post-launch DLC for FIFA 19. Women’s soccer was featured prominently in the second and third chapters of “The Journey,” the series’ narrative mode, in 2017 and 2018, and the new Volta Football mode draws on a mixed-gender roster.

Although better known by the FIFA Women’s World Cup and other national-team competitions, professional women’s leagues can be found in every elite soccer nation and the United States. England has the Football Association Women’s Super League, established in 2011, which recently agreed to a television broadcast deal with Sky Sports and the BBC.

Germany, France, Spain, and Italy all have professional women’s leagues, as do Mexico, the U.S., Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia. There are plenty of teams and players, in other words, to power Football Manager’s simulation.

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