FIFA and EA Sports End Partnership After the Two Sides Failed to Negotiate an Extension

After almost three decades, one of the most successful commercial relationships in sports is over.

Months of tense negotiations between the video-game maker Electronic Arts and FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, ended without an agreement to extend a partnership that had created not so much a wildly popular game as a cultural phenomenon.

The current deal, which was to end after this year’s World Cup in Qatar, has been adjusted to run through to the Women’s World Cup next summer. But once that tournament is over, company officials confirmed, 150 million FIFA video game players will have to get used to a new name for the series: EA Sports FC.

The game itself will not change much. Most of the world’s famous clubs and stars will still be playable because of separate licensing deals with their teams and leagues, even though the World Cup itself and other FIFA-controlled events will no longer be included. Still, the continuation of the game does not alter the seismic nature of the rebranding.

The game itself will not change much. Most of the world’s famous clubs and stars will still be playable because of separate licensing deals with their teams and leagues, even though the World Cup itself and other FIFA-controlled events will no longer be included. Still, the continuation of the game does not alter the seismic nature of the rebranding.

But the writing had been on the wall for a split for months. While the dispute was undoubtedly rooted in part to differing financial expectations — FIFA was seeking at least double the $150 million it gets annually from EA Sports, its biggest commercial partner — it also quickly became clear there were different expectations of what should be included in a new agreement.

The more recent deal was signed 10 years ago, but the intervening years had been marked not only by great technological change but arguably even greater upheaval at FIFA, which almost collapsed after a major corruption scandal in 2015. FIFA’s new leader, Gianni Infantino, has tried — and often failed — to unlock new revenue streams.

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