Beckham is reportedly making £40 million from FIFA 21, while Ibrahimovic is livid about being in it

David Beckham as a FIFA 21 legend.
(Image credit: EA Sports)

The UK's Daily Mirror reports that David Beckham is being paid £40 million over three years to appear as an 'icon' in FIFA 21 and future games. A source told the paper that "FIFA makers EA Sports offered him £30million over three years but he managed to get a better deal. It is a big addition to the Beckham brand and the easiest money he’s ever made."

[Update: 18:52 BST, 24/11/20: EA Sports has provided PC Gamer with this statement: “We’ve seen the reports on the terms of our deal to bring David Beckham back into our EA SPORTS FIFA game. We don't disclose specific details, but we can be definitive that the figures being reported are being completely sensationalized and are in no way accurate.”]

Nevertheless, these reports have set off Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a man who is never knowingly undersold (Twitter bio: "Lions don't compare themselves to humans.")

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Zlatan goes on to say in a follow-up that "Somebody is making profit on my name and face without any agreement all these years. Time to investigate." Man, now I bet EA's really pissed. Could it get worse?

Former FIFA cover star Gareth Bale, currently at Spurs, decided to wade in.

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Bale turns Ibrahimovic's last words into a hashtag, presumably expecting a great mass of FIFA players to join in this battle to ensure multi-millionaires are paid fairly.

The background to this is an ongoing battle between certain football agents and FIFPro, the body supposed to represent the interests of footballers. Ibrahimovic's representation was quick to weigh in, and what this essentially comes down to is high-profile players wanting to negotiate separate image rights.

One key difference with Beckham is that he's retired from playing, whereas EA Sports is 'official video game partner' of both AC Milan (Ibrahimovic) and Tottenham (Bale), deals that will include rights to the clubs' players, jerseys and stadia. So it's complicated. And probably the only thing we can for certain is that this spat will result in some extremely well-paid lawyers and footballers.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."