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FIFA 17 under fire in Russia following EA's support of LGBTQ campaign

Custom rainbow kits have been met with calls for a ban among Russian MPs citing 2013 "gay propaganda law"

Russian MPs have rallied against FIFA 17 following EA's decision to back a campaign raising awareness of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in football.

The campaign in question, Rainbow Laces, was started by the LGBTQ group Stonewall last month. The group was motivated by the homophobic, biphobic and transphobic sentiment that still pervades football grounds, with 72% of fans admitting to hearing anti-LGBTQ remarks in the last five years, and one in five 18 to 24 year-olds admitting they'd be embarrassed if their favourite player came out.

EA showed its support for the initiative by making rainbow football kits freely available in FIFA 17's popular Ultimate Team mode - a temporary promotion that expired on November 28.

However, The Guardian reports that the initiative has proved controversial in Russia, where a group of MPs has complained to the "communications oversight and state consumer protection agencies." The complaint relates to a law, enacted in 2013, concerned with "propaganda" for "non-traditional sexual relations" and its potential to, "harm to children's health and development."

Irina Rodnina, an MP for United Russia, told the Russian media that the government needed to "verify the possibility" of FIFA 17's distribution within the Federation, raising the spectre of a ban on EA's hugely popular game. Another MP, the Communist Valery Rashkin, called for authorities to make, "changes to the programming code or the age classification of this information product, and if it refuses, adopt corresponding restrictive measures."

Of course, EA's support of Rainbow Laces is entirely in keeping with the company's other activities. It has a strong track record of promoting diversity within its games, introducing its first transgender character in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and collaborating with GLAAD to implement detailed gender customisation options to The Sims 4 in June this year.

Indeed, EA was just named one of the best places to work for LGBTQ people in the Human Rights Campaign's new report, scoring a maximum 100% for the fifth year in a row.

"It was inspirational to watch our EA LGBTQ community support outreach efforts soon after the Orlando shootings, and our CSR efforts support the wider LGBTQ in Orlando," the company said on its website. "Relationships are important as EA employees participate in PRIDE Parades, partner with the Premier League in Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, speakers at PAX, sponsorship of Lesbians Who Tech hackathons, cheering on same sex couples at Austin, TX courthouse, and the list goes on."

We have contacted representatives at EA for comment.

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Latest comments (1)

Ian Griffiths Senior Product Manager, Hutch3 months ago
I wonder if homophobia will ever come to an end. I'm more hopeful of the future as the prevalence of homophobic attitudes literally dies out.

Well done to EA for this promotion and I hope to see more, not just in timed content but all content from them and other developers.
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