Electronic Arts, one of the world’s largest video game publishers and the developer of sports games FIFA and NHL is removing Russian teams from its video games amid the invasion of Ukraine.
In two separate announcements on Tuesday, EA sports, which develops and publishes Electronic Arts’ sports titles, said it will pull Russia’s national and club football teams from its 2022 line of FIFA games. It will also be pulling the Russian and Belarusian national and club hockey teams from NHL 22.
The move comes after the governing bodies that oversee the two sports suspended Russia from participating in international competitions.
EA Sports said in its statement that it “stands in solidarity” with the Ukrainian people.
“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,” EA Sports FIFA said on Twitter.
“In line with our partners at FIFA and UEFA, EA SPORTS has initiated processes to remove the Russian National Team and all Russian clubs from EA SPORTS FIFA products including: FIFA 22, FIFA Mobile and FIFA Online,” it added.
“Following the IIHF’s suspension of all Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from IIHF competitions, we will be removing these teams from NHL 22 within the coming weeks,” the publisher said in a separate statement. “We stand with the people of Ukraine and join the voices around the world calling for peace.”
The publisher says it is “actively evaluating related changes,” with other aspects of their video games, some of which feature Russian characters and locations.
The move to omit any Russian presence from video games, and even restrict Russian gamers from participating online, comes amid a call from Ukraine to impose sanctions on Russian citizens over the invasion of Ukraine.
“We are sure that such actions will motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression,” the Ukrainian deputy prime minister suggested, Rebel News reported.
EA joins a growing list of companies that are sanctioning Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, including Big Tech giants Google and Apple, as well as payment services providers Visa and Mastercard.
On Monday, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced that it has banned Russian football teams from all competitions. The ban was joined by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
“Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA have today decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice,” UEFA and FIFA said in a joint statement.
“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine,” the statement continued. “Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people.”