Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Local Commentary: FIFA 2016 Video Game Includes Women’s Teams For First Time

naples-herald-dot-logo-20x20 (1)I’ve been asking this question for a long time: why aren’t professional women soccer players in the EA Sports FIFA video game? I even sent them a tweet and Googled it. Not surprisingly, I didn’t receive any response.

In May 2015 I attended the National Organization for Women state conference in Venice, Florida. One of the workshops I attended was called “Women and Gaming Culture.” It was an interesting conversation about how women are not fairly represented in video games and how women who consider themselves gamers are often harassed and ridiculed. Why is this relevant? I raised my hand in the workshop and expressed my distain for the fact that the FIFA video game doesn’t include women players. Everyone agreed.

As I prepared myself to watch the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup a few weeks back, I received fascinating news: FIFA 16 will feature women’s teams for the first time in history! This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time, a victory for women and for soccer players worldwide. FIFA 16 will include 12 of the world’s top international teams: USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and Sweden. Ok, so not all of the women’s leagues or teams around the world, but it’s a start right?

Interesting how the FIFA corruption scandal, the video game announcement, and the 2015 Women’s World Cup all coincided with each other. Although it’s about time FIFA puts women athletes in their popular video games, they aren’t exactly treating women players in real life with much respect. In 2004, President of FIFA Sepp Blatter actually suggested that women’s soccer would get more viewers if they wore tighter shorts. He calls himself the “godfather of women’s football.”

Please.

This, coming from a man who thought it was alright to host the entire 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial surfaces. This is the first senior FIFA event ever to be hosted on artificial turf. You can be sure that no male footballers would be playing on anything but real grass. A question like that would never be asked of them.

 Mashable cited a startling fact that shows FIFA’s arrogance. The organization funded and produced a 2014 movie called United Passions, a film with Tim Roth starring as President Sepp Blatter. The movie cost FIFA $30 million to produce – roughly 10 times what it would have cost to install grass playing fields for this summer’s Women’s World Cup. Meanwhile, the movie was released and our women soccer players are forced to play the biggest soccer event in the world on a surface that can get up to 120 degrees and leave nasty turf burns on your legs.

We won’t forget about how FIFA treats women, regardless of the video game victory. For now, I’ll celebrate that slowly, but surely, we’re gaining traction as women and as soccer players in this male-dominated world.

It’s undeniable how much interest soccer has gained in the U.S. in recent years and that alone makes me happy. ESPNw released 3 short films telling the stories of 3 notorious World Cup players: Megan Rapinoe (USA), Sydney Leroux (USA), and Vero Boquete (Spain), each one of them detailing their own personal history and their unlikely shift into the limelight becoming role models for little girls everywhere who aspire to be soccer players.

They prove it’s possible. As someone who grew up with the same dreams, it gives me pride and joy to be watching these women achieve theirs. In reality, they’re living the dream for all of us who still have those little girls inside of us. I’ll be watching the Women’s World Cup live in Vancouver and Ottawa, living vicariously through these inspiring athletes that I like to call my heroes.


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