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EA Sports predicts the World Cup so you don’t have to watch it

It’s a favor, given how shady this whole thing has gotten over the past decade

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four players in their respective national team uniforms standing shoulder-to-shoulder in FIFA 23 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.

There are plenty of good, moral reasons for not wanting to give FIFA or its 22nd World Cup your eyeballs when that tournament kicks off Nov. 20.

The whole thing is a sportswashing boondoggle to legitimize Qatar’s oligarchy; the hosting rights were literally bought and paid for, in bribes to FIFA’s equally odious leadership; seven new stadiums, and the rest of the World Cup venue, were built with slave labor from South Asia, with estimates saying as many as 6,500 died on the job. Then there’s Qatar’s refusal to join the 21st century, much less provide modern hospitality to the fans it’s paying to attend, instead telling them they’ll be arrested if they’re gay or drink beer in public; and there’s FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s craven, stick-to-sports response to all of the above.

If that’s enough to make you say no thanks, then fortunately, EA Sports has you covered. In the last year it’s publishing a soccer game with FIFA’s branding, EA has once again run a simulation to predict this year’s World Cup winner. While such promotions are de rigueur for sports video gaming, we should note that EA has correctly bagged the last three World Cup champions using this methodology.

And the winner is: Argentina.

The Albiceleste’s first world championship since 1986 would also be the last title Lionel Messi needs to complete his trophy case, having won basically every other championship and individual award available in his brilliant, 19-year career. For good measure, FIFA 23 says Messi will also collect the World Cup’s Golden Boot and Golden Ball.

It stands to reason; if Argentina wins the World Cup, Messi would likely be the tournament’s top goal-scorer (for the Golden Boot) and therefore easily voted most outstanding player (Golden Ball). Messi won the Golden Ball in 2014 even though Argentina came in runners-up that year.

EA Sports correctly chose France as the 2018 World Cup winner, along with Germany in 2014 and Spain in 2010. It’s a better betting record than the Madden NFL franchise has posted recently with its main event; EA Sports has whiffed on the past two Super Bowls, dropping its record there to 11-8, 12-7 against the point spread.