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Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gareth Bale call for EA Sports probe over image rights in FIFA video game

Two of football's biggest names appear to be unaware of how EA Sports have obtained their image rights for the FIFA game series; EA say they obtain licenses via FIFPro, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he is not a member; EA Sports launched FIFA 21 on October 6, the latest game in the franchise

 Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action for AC Milan against Verona
Image: Zlatan Ibrahimovic claims he has not given permission for the game to use his name and likeness

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gareth Bale have called for an investigation into how EA Sports are allowed to use their image rights in the popular FIFA football video game series.

AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic claims he has not given permission for the game to use his name and likeness and appeared to suggest that the players union FIFPro, of which he also says he is not an agreed member, is behind it.

EA Sports has confirmed to Sky Sports News it obtains image rights for some players via FIFPro, but Tottenham and Wales star Bale, in reply to Ibrahimovic, questioned what FIFPro is.

Ibrahimovic said on Twitter: "Who gave FIFA EA Sport permission to use my name and face? FIFPro?

"I'm not aware to be a member of FIFPro and, if I am, I was put there without any real knowledge through some weird manoeuvre.

"And for sure I never allowed FIFA or FIFPro to make money using me. Somebody is making profit on my name and face without any agreement all these years. Time to investigate."

Spurs loanee Gareth Bale in the stands for their match against Newcastle
Image: Gareth Bale does not appear to know what FIFPro is and has joined Zlatan Ibrahimovic in calling for an investigation into image rights use in the FIFA game series

In reply, Bale said: "Interesting…. what is FIFPro?" He then agreed it was "time to investigate" in hashtag form. In 2013, Bale posted on Twitter a picture of himself on the FIFA 2014 cover with the caption: "New club... new EASPORTSFIFA cover! #Halamadrid #FIFA14UKcover #ad."

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On Wednesday EA Sports claimed in a statement that their deals with AC Milan and Spurs entitled them to "player likenesses" in FIFA 21 game.

A spokesman told Sky Sports News: "We are aware of discussions around licensing of players in EA SPORTS FIFA. The current situation being played out on social media is an attempt to draw FIFA 21 into a dispute between a number of 3rd parties and has little to do with EA SPORTS.

"To be very clear, we have contractual rights to include the likeness of all players currently in our game. As already stated, we acquire these licenses directly from leagues, teams, and individual players. In addition, we work with FIFPro to ensure we can include as many players as we can to create the most authentic game.

"In these instances, our rights to player likenesses are granted through our club agreement with AC Milan and our long-standing exclusive partnership with the Premier League, which includes all players for Tottenham Hotspur."

Bale's loan club Tottenham count EA Sports as one of their official partners, while in August this year, AC Milan announced an "exclusive multi-year partnership" with EA Sports that would allow gamers to play as AC Milan in San Siro stadium in the FIFA game series for the first time.

But Ibrahimovic's agent Mino Raiola has also claimed that "FIFPro and AC Milan do not have players individual rights", via his social media. "I'm sure you know and we have told you many times EA Sports," he added.

Meanwhile, an EA Sports spokesperson told Sky Sports News: "EA Sports FIFA is the world's leading football video game, and to create an authentic experience year after year we work with numerous leagues, teams and individual talent to secure the rights of player likeness to include in our game.

"One of those is a long-standing relationship with the global representative of professional football players, FIFPro, who partner with a number of licensors to negotiate deals that benefit the players and their unions."

Sky Sports News has also contacted FIFPro for comment.

What is FIFPro?

FIFPRO says they are "the only global representative for professional football players".

On their website, alongside endorsements from Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane, the union claims: "We work every day on behalf of more than 65,000 players, both men and women, spread across our 65 affiliated national player associations."

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