EA Sports announced today that it has initiated the process to remove Russian and Belarusian national clubs from its FIFA- and NHL-licensed games in response to the two countries’ invasion of Ukraine.
The announcement came shortly after FIFA, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) suspended Russian national teams and clubs from all competition. The International Olympic Committee called on other international federations to take similar action.
"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,” wrote EA sports in a statement.
EA Sports FIFA said the Russian national team and all national clubs will be removed from FIFA 22, FIFA Mobile and FIFA Online. EA Sports NHL said it will be doing the same for NHL 22.
Polygon, however, notes that the removal only covers national teams and clubs, not individual athletes. For example, Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin, who plays for the Washington Capitals, will remain in the game.
"We're also actively evaluating related changes to other areas of our games,” added EA Sports.
As to whether the removal will extend to FIFA 23 and NHL 23, both of which are expected to come out this year, is not yet known.
These bans in the video game space could only be the start as Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov is now calling on PlayStation and Xbox to halt sales in Russian markets and block Russian accounts on their respective platforms. He also urged international esports leagues to suspend Russian and Belarusian players from any sort of competition and to stop holding events in Russia and Belarus.
As of writing, Sony and Microsoft, which own PlayStation and Xbox respectively, have yet to respond to the request. A number of U.S. private companies have already pulled out off of the Russian market, including Apple and Nike. Disney and WarnerMedia recently announced that they were also joining the boycott by pausing upcoming their film releases in Russia.
EA Sports announced that the Russian and Belarusian national teams and all national clubs will be removed from FIFA 22 and NHL 22.
Individual athletes playing for non-Russsian teams, however, will remain in the games.
The removal came after FIFA and the IIHF, among other federations, suspended Russian and Belarusian teams from international competition.