Female Footballers Still Sidelined in FIFA 14

Women won't make an appearance in FIFA 14, despite an insistent campaign of petitions to include them and a summit, last year, that left one organizer with the feeling that it was just a matter of time before women would be included in the world's most popular video game for the world's most popular sport.

Three weeks ago, in this interview, FIFA producer Sebastian Enrique ruled out the appearance of women in EA Sports' upcoming football simulation by saying, "there are no plans at the moment." Enrique said including women would require a different physics model specific to those players, plus new player modeling and even hairstyles.

I followed up with EA Canada, the studio that builds FIFA, and was told, by executive producer David Rutter, that women's soccer would not make an appearance in FIFA this year.

It's noteworthy still for a couple of reasons: The addition, in 2011, of women players to EA Sports' NHL series (in their Be a Pro mode, and as an option in creating players elsewhere; two women also were included on a roster of all-time greats last year). And this year also saw, for the first time ever, the LPGA and one of its major tournaments included in a golf video game for consoles. And it's noteworthy because women's soccer is, as a participation and a spectator sport, more popular than women's golf or hockey.

Fernanda Schabarum, a Brazilian living and working in South Florida, last year opened an online petition to demand women's inclusion in FIFA. It gained enough attention that David Rutter, the series' executive producer, met with her. "He said it's going to happen at some point, and he hopes EA is the one to do it, and do it right," Schabarum told Kotaku last year.

Rutter, for his part, told Kotaku the same thing at the time, but said issues of licensing, of gameplay balance and meaningful inclusion in a main game mode, and other considerations kept it from being the kind of easy add-on some assume it would be.

"Nothing has changed since our last interview," Rutter said today. "As a team we have discussed at length the inclusion of female characters in FIFA, and whilst it's something that remains on our list of features for consideration as part of our mission statement above, we do not have plans to put female characters into the game this year."

On a hunch, I asked directly if female footballers would be an inclusion in the next-generation console versions of FIFA, for reasons of disc space, system power or whatever. Rutter didn't answer that and the statement "we do not have plans to put female characters into the game this year," would seem to be a definitive "no" considering EA Sports has said FIFA will be available on new consoles at their launch. Maybe this will change next year, but we had the same thought in the last one, too.

To contact the author of this post, write to owen@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @owengood.