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FIFA Ultimate Team benches Russian players and clubs

Another step in video games’ boycott against Ukraine’s invaders

Son Heung-min of Tottenham celebrates a goal in FIFA 22 by making a movie-frame gesture over his left eye. Two teammates are joining the celebration from behind. Image: EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Players on Russian soccer clubs, their kits, those teams’ managers, and other Russian items are no longer available in FIFA Ultimate Team’s card packs, EA Sports told players this week.

In an announcement greeting players at login, players are told that a variety of Russian players and branded items are no longer available “in line with real world actions taken by our partners at FIFA and UEFA.” Last week, EA Sports’ FIFA 22 and NHL 22 also removed Russian national teams from their lineups, corresponding to world sports bodies’ expulsion of Russian teams and competitors from several events at the end of February. The bans were implemented as a response to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

“EA Sports stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian People and like so many voices across the world of football, calls for peace and an end to the invasion of Ukraine,” the statement said.

In FIFA Ultimate Team, an enormous moneymaker for Electronic Arts, players assemble all-star teams comprising players from different nations and clubs, outfit them in different uniforms, and decorate their stadiums with tifos, banners, and other designs specific to other clubs or nations. These items are acquired by random draw in card packs. Players who have acquired them can also auction them off, for in-game currency, in FUT’s Transfer Market.

Players who have already acquired the Russian items in question can still keep them, EA Sports said. But their exchange prices on the Transfer Market will be fixed, to prevent any profiteering off their newfound scarcity.

The items in question are, according to Tuesday’s message:

  • Player Items from Russian clubs
  • Kit Items from Russian clubs
  • Stadia and Stadium Items from Russian clubs and the national team
  • Russian Manager League Consumable Items
  • Manager Items from the Russian Premier League

EA Sports said last week it would remove the Russian and Belarusian national clubs from FIFA 22 (as well as NHL 22). But Russians who play in non-Russian leagues are apparently still available in FIFA Ultimate Team’s card packs.

Electronic Arts also announced it would no longer sell its games, content, or virtual currencies in Russia or its ally, Belarus, while the war continues in Ukraine. That followed an appeal from Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Mykhalio Fedorov, specifically to video game companies like Microsoft and PlayStation, to stop selling in Russia.

The private-sector boycott of Russia is in addition to sanctions leveled by the United States, the European Union, and others since the invasion began. Apple, Disney, Warner Bros., and Paramount have also ceased operations and sales in Russia, along with petroleum giants Shell and BP.