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EA Sports enlists world’s oldest football club to curb bad behavior

The ‘FOAT Code’ is endorsed by the first-of-all-time, Sheffield FC

Five rules for polite online play in FIFA 22. Don’t rage-quit, don’t waste time, don’t replay “sweaty” goals, don’t celebrate every goal, and don’t pause excessively
The Code. Live it, love it, abide it.
Image: EA Canada/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

EA Sports is leaning on Sheffield FC — the oldest football club still playing today — and its 163rd birthday on Sunday to lay down a code of polite conduct for FIFA 22’s online matches.

Sheffield is a good vessel for “The FOAT Code” (First of All Time) because the club developed the Sheffield Rules, the first set of rules published (in 1859) by a football club. Today’s soccer (association football) goes by the Laws of the Game, a title that sounds like it should be spoken from Castle Grayskull’s jawbridge.

Anyway, yon FOAT Code holds that thou shalt:

  • Not rage-quit.
  • Not replay every goal (unless it’s really worth it).
  • Not celebrate “every sweaty goal.”
  • Not waste time or pause and interrupt the game.

The code is, basically, unenforceable, which is why EA Sports and Sheffield FC are appealing to fans’ love of the game and its history, in hopes they willingly abide by certain norms.

Last year, however, EA Canada developers pulled a couple of goal celebrations that had been abused to waste time and antagonize opponents. After a goal, the scoring player has the option of triggering a TV-style replay; if they do, the other player has to sit through it. However, the game recently introduced an option to show your manager or your players reacting if you surrender the goal, instead of seeing your opponent’s taunting celebration.

Pausing the game, however, there’s very little that can be done about that except limit the pauses to 30 seconds. Even then, that prerogative can be abused to death. There are sanctions for rage-quitting in Football Ultimate Team (loss of FUT Coin payouts, threats of future penalties) but they don’t seem to curb this behavior.

If there isn’t much of a stick for poor behavior, EA Sports is still offering a carrot: Sheffield FC’s original 1857 kit — long sleeves, collars, and all — for completing three FUT objectives. They are:

  • Play five matches in any FUT mode, starting five players from England in your lineup.
  • Assist three goals using a player from England, also in any FUT game mode.
  • Win a match by two or more goals in any FUT game mode.

Meanwhile, happy birthday to Sheffield FC, aka The Club, recipients of the FIFA Order of Merit in 2004. They compete in the “Rules derby” against Hallam FC, which is the oldest fixture in the world (dating to 1860 and originally contested under the Sheffield Rules). If you want to know more about the Sheffield Rules and how they differ from modern football, here’s a delightful Wikipedia rabbit hole to fall down.

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