While the real-world FIFA is wrapped up in a corruption scandal, some positive news emerged from the virtual soccer world today as EA Sports announced that women’s teams will be playable for the first time in the history of the FIFA series in the upcoming FIFA 16.
Twelve top international teams will make the debut in FIFA 16 as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and the USA are all represented.
In an interview with The Guardian, FIFA Vice President and General Manager David Rutter shared that the appearance of women in FIFA has been in the works for a while:
“It’s been in the pipeline for a few years, and really it was just a case of making sure that the game was in a good enough state for it the work properly. We needed to have tools and technology in place that could differentiate between men and women. Plus, we had to factor in the time and effort required for travelling around the world to scan faces and heads, record motion capture, etc. It’s been on the to-do list for a while.”
Instead of simply rewrapping male player models with female skins, EA Sports invited players from the United States Women’s National Team to its Vancouver studio for motion capture and the developers welcomed feedback on the women’s appearance in the game, including hair physics.
“A large number of female athletes have long hair, so we’ve had to focus on improving that element too. Again, that enables us to improve the look of male players with similar hairstyles.”
Rutter also confirmed that inter-gender matches will not be available, much like in real life, so those hoping to face off a women’s team against a squad of men will be out of luck.
FIFA 16 will be released on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on Sept. 22, 2015.
This is 100% my favorite thing to happen to a sports game in a decade. Despite what some blowhards say about the men’s game being head-and-shoulders above the women’s game, the past few Women’s World Cups have been outstanding on-field drama. With the popularity (and success) of the United States Women’s National Team surpassing the U.S. Men’s National Team lately, Americans should be particularly excited to take control of Alex Morgan and Co.
Brian Hoerst is an associate editor and co-host of the More Than The Score podcast. Follow him on Twitter.