Gamers helping to change the game

July 22, 2022 - 08:22

With the rising popularity of the women’s game, boosted by the current Euro 2022 tournament, the need for gender equality is loud and clear.


Man City Womens is one of the female teams to feature in EA's upcoming FIFA 23. — Photo courtesy of EA Sports

Paul Kennedy

I took to video games rather like a duck would to boiling water. We are just not compatible. I once tried to play Grand Theft Auto and after 20 minutes still hadn’t gotten into the car.

Back in the day, when things were far more simple with the likes of Pacman and Space Invaders, I was fine. But as video games evolved I’ve been well and truly left behind.

So I must be one of the few people on the planet never to have played Fifa, the football-themed video game that, as of 2021, had sold more than 325 million copies.

I’m aware of its existence, popularity and flabbergasted at how real the players look, but don’t ask me to have a go.

This week, Electronic Arts, the makers of the game announced the inclusion of women’s club football teams in FIFA 23 – a first for the series.

Now while this won't make me want to rush out and spend my hard-earned cash getting my hands on a copy, I do think it is a very important milestone in football.

Although EA first added women’s football back in 2015, that game only featured a handful of international sides, leaving many at the time thinking the inclusion was nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Today however, that is not the case.

With the rising popularity of the women’s game, boosted by the current EURO 2022 tournament, the need for gender equality is loud and clear.

The 2022 finals now boast the highest attendance figures for a Women's EURO, after the 240,055 mark set at the 2017 finals in the Netherlands was passed during the Matchday 2 game between France and Belgium.

And there are still more games to play.

A crowd of 68,871 turned out to watch hosts England edge a 1-0 win against Austria in the opening game. That’s the type of attendance Premier League Champions Manchester City can only dream about.

If I’m honest though, I don’t think many men playing FIFA will opt for a female team, but that’s really not the point. Women gamers certainly will.

What happens next is also crucial. Women footballers are paid a slither of the salaries paid to their male counterparts. And while you could argue that the men’s game is far more established, and attracts a much larger slice of the commercial pay, there is obvious catching up to be done.

Male footballers are also paid by video game manufactures for image rights.

So I just hope that sometime soon, envelopes containing nice, fat cheques will soon be landing on the doorsteps of their female counterparts. — VNS