On September 10, Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy appeared in Chester Crown Court and was charged with four counts of rape and one count of sexual assault. The 27-year-old is accused of attacking three women at his Cheshire home between October 2020 and August 2021. Mendy had previously been refused bail, is currently being held in custody, and will next appear in court on November 15, before a trial on January 24 next year.
The player is a France international, who joined current Premier League champions Manchester City in 2017 for £52 million (he is currently suspended from the club while awaiting trial). Thus Mendy has a large profile in global football and, of course, features in various versions of FIFA over the years.
Now EA has announced it has removed the player from FIFA 22 (per Eurogamer), which EA Play subscribers have been able to access a trial of since September 22 (the game releases on October 1). Mendy has been removed from the Manchester City and France teams, and his card removed from FIFA Ultimate Team.
"As Benjamin Mendy has been removed from the active rosters of both Manchester City and the French National team, in FIFA 22 he has also been removed from respective rosters and suspended from appearing in FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) packs and Ultimate Draft while he is awaiting trial."
However, because Mendy's FUT card was in the game at launch, it persists in the in-game transfer market for FUT cards. This means he can still appear in players' teams.
EA provided an additional clarification to Eurogamer on the card's availability which reads: "We can confirm the changes in FUT were made the day after the launch of the EA Play early access trial resulting in some players having access to Mendy in packs before the suspension kicked in."
This has led to some speculation that Mendy's FUT card may increase in value due to its 'rarity'. EA has the ability to 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 a scenario of crass speculation.
The inter-twining of real-world sports and their videogame equivalents is now like never before. People want FIFA 22 to feel impacted by the happenings in the world of football and reflect them. In general this is a huge positive for the videogame's authenticity and link to the real sport, but it has also put EA in a position where it increasingly has to make judgements about what should not be allowed in FIFA.
Few would query EA's decision here: Mendy remains innocent until proven guilty, but should he be found innocent and return to the world of football, he can be returned to the game. Other decisions over the years have been much less clear-cut. Marco van Basten was removed from FIFA 20 as a FUT icon, after he used the phrase 'sieg heil' during a sports broadcast, before returning in FIFA 21. Jens Lehmann, former Arsenal and Germany goalkeeper, was silently removed from FIFA 21 after previously being shown, with the scuttlebutt being that his removal was down to his airing some dodgy coronavirus views.
PC Gamer has contacted EA about what it intends to do about Mendy's existing FUT card and will update with any response.