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Friday, December 1, 2023

Mason Greenwood removed from FIFA 22 following arrest over rape allegation

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This past weekend, Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood was accused of rape and assault by a woman on Instagram, after which he was arrested by Greater Manchester Police. Today, Greenwood was re-arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and making threats to kill, per the BBC, and police say magistrates have granted an extension that will keep him in custody until Wednesday.

Manchester United has said Greenwood will not play for the club until further notice, and now developer EA has released a statement announcing that the player has been removed from FIFA 22. Greenwood will no longer appear in active squads and has been removed from FIFA Ultimate Team packs and Ultimate Draft. However, any pre-existing save in Career Mode with the player will remain (though he can no longer be selected) and his Ultimate Team card remains on the trading market.

The latter point is an unfortunate aspect of these removals, as recent history suggests it doesn’t lead to anything other than crass market speculation: Greenwood’s card is now more ‘rare’ than when he was in the game. EA can fix the price of FUT items to prevent this, though is yet to do so in this case—when the player Emiliano Sala died in a plane crash, the publisher fixed the prices of items relating to him to prevent such a scenario. But clearly this is an ongoing issue: The player Benjamin Mendy was also removed from FIFA 22 last year following accusations of rape, but FUT cards bearing his likeness remain.

The intertwining of real-world sports and their videogame equivalents is now almost total, and fans want FIFA 22 to be impacted by the happenings in the world of football and reflect them. In general, this is a positive for the videogame’s link to the real sport, but it also puts EA in a position where it has to make judgements about serious accusations like these as they happen. 

In another instance, Marco van Basten was removed from FIFA 20 as a FUT icon after he used the phrase ‘sieg heil’ during a sports broadcast. He later apologised and said his intent was to mock his friend’s bad German, and returned in FIFA 21. Jens Lehmann, former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper, was silently removed from FIFA 21 after previously being shown. The rumour was that his removal was down to some dodgy coronavirus views.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman told the BBC inquiries were ongoing in the Greenwood case, and a woman was being “offered specialist support.”

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