Russia’s state censorship agency may ban Fifa 17 after it was branded “gay propaganda” by a group of MPs.
The soccer simulator was accused of breaching the country’s anti-LGBT laws by featuring rainbow-colored shirts for players in the game.
Politicians in the country said the game should have its code forcibly changed – or be removed from stores – to excise support for the campaign.
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) November 26, 2016
The latest installment of the EA Games product – which has been on sale since late September – included the rainbow shirts in a show of support for a campaign by the British LGBT charity Stonewall.
The pro-LGBT content – a downloadable kit launched in late November – was part of the #RainbowLaces campaign, which was also backed by the real-life English Premier League.
Football grounds were adorned with rainbow-colored campaign material, the league changed its logo online, and players were encouraged to compete wearing rainbow shoelaces.
EA’s endorsement of the campaign received a mixed response online. Some users applauded the developer:
— IamFrench (@IamFrench_) November 26, 2016
Others used homophobic slurs and posted footage of them downloading the kit and immediately selling it:
— عبدالله (@Eneze_Madrid) November 26, 2016
The content was a limited-edition product and is no longer available to download.
The gesture clearly angered members of the Russian political establishment, who wrote to a committee overseeing the state censorship agency, claiming it should take action against the game for breaching a 2013 law criminalizing the promotion of homosexuality.
The letter (via The Independent) said:
The FIFA multiplatform video game, developed by EA Canada, invites users to support the action of the English Premier League’s “Rainbow shoelaces” action – a large-scale campaign in support of the LGBT community.
Meanwhile, according to the law the “protection of children from information harmful to their health and development”… includes information that promotes non-traditional sexual relations.
One MP speaking to the Russian media suggested that the agency could change the game’s code to remove pro-LGBT content, increase its age rating to stop children playing, or remove it from sale completely.