2023 is a significant year as it signals the last time that Electronic Arts and football’s international governing body will be doing business together. The decision was made after the developers failed to meet FIFA’s asking price to carry on collaborating in the future.
Show me the money
It was a seismic announcement in the tech industry given that these two companies first began a working relationship in 1993.
In truth, it has been a hugely successful partnership and a blueprint on how to succeed in business.
Having broken so many records, and enjoyed rave reviews, whilst being one of the most dependable collaborators that fans could rely on to produce high-quality products, it appears to be a surprise that the two parties failed to reach an agreement.
However, on closer inspection, it makes complete sense for the innovative developers to decide to go alone after the unmeetable financial demands they encountered in terms of renewing their existing deal.
The badly needed context here is that football’s rule-makers have made a string of questionable business choices over the last ten years which has led to profound change at the top of their organization in a bid to reverse the course they were going down.
However, it seems as if a new broom doesn’t necessarily always sweep clean given that football’s global think tank has continued to put profit above anything else, as proposed to focusing on the long term by investing in people they have stood side by side with for three decades.
Gianni Infantino has been re-elected as FIFA president until 2027. pic.twitter.com/CvONDkeBAm
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 16, 2023
Their decision in 2021 to part ways with their trusted partner after pricing the company out of the market is a prime example of this. Especially as the current president, Gianni Infantino had been head of the organization since 2016, five years before this agreement was ended.
The more things change, the more they stay the same
In essence, Infantino’s appointment was meant to serve as a powerful breath of fresh air that would blow through the dated corridors of the institution’s headquarters in Switzerland but instead, meaningful progress hasn’t been as forthcoming as people might have hoped it would.
The crucial point to make here is that it should be said that there has been a pioneering attitude adopted to matters on the field of play, with one of the most significant changes under Infantino being a World Cup that is set to feature 48 nations instead of the previous 32.
It is, all things considered, a staggering decision that will mean an eye-watering 104 matches at the event in 2026. With such drastic changes, naturally comes uncertainty about what to expect and indeed who could win, even if Betway has, as of the 16th of March, priced Brazil as the outright favourites at odds of 6/1. The truth is that no one knows what Infantino’s new format in North America will realistically look like or how well the tournament will be received.
In essence, this isn’t necessarily the type of change that people have been asking for with the organization continuing to act in a way that perhaps could be best described as serving their own interests instead of the greater good.
FIFA approves World Cup format for 2026:
▪️ 104 games
▪️ 48 teams
▪️ 12 groups of 4, 3 games played
▪️ 8 maximum games (up from 7)
▪️ Top 2 teams in each group plus 8 best 3rd-placed sides advance pic.twitter.com/2uHLLOC7Eo
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 14, 2023
Electronic Arts left high and dry
Essentially, the broader point is that their decision to terminate their long-standing collaboration with Electronic Arts is a change of direction, yes, but it is one that a vast amount of people would have been against. In this sense, the company is making changes but ones that could be detrimental to its reputation.
Additionally, it does speak volumes that there was seemingly little room for negotiation when the request was to find some middle ground in order to preserve one of the most iconic partnerships in the world of technology.
But it is the terminology that the institution used in the parting statement that reveals how little awareness there seemingly is of how they are perceived globally after they said: “it is clear that this needs to be a space that is occupied by more than one party controlling all rights.”
In other words, to imply that a group of developers are the ones guilty of trying to seek absolute power is ironic, and given that they have now, albeit reluctantly, had to walk away, a light will be shone on how Infantino’s company treats its established partners which will hopefully inspire genuine change going forward.