EA Sports has decided to indefinitely remove Marco van Basten from FIFA Ultimate Team mode in FIFA 20, following van Basten’s alleged use of the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil” during a live broadcast in November while off-camera. EA’s decision follows Fox Sport’s week-long suspension of van Basten from his current role as a television pundit. The video from Fox Sport’s broadcast on the Dutch program De Eretribune is below. In English, “Sieg Heil” translates as “hail victory,” but the phrase carries negative connotations because of its association with the Holocaust and World War II.
Following the broadcast, the ex-Netherlands, Ajax, and AC Milan forward issued a public apology on the Dutch program, explaining that his comment was “not intended to shock people” and that “it was meant to ridicule the German language of pitchside reporter Hans Kraaij,” who appears on air during the segment. In an official statement, Fox Sports called the van Basten’s remarks “stupid and inappropriate” and donated his fee to the Netherlands Institute of War Documentation, an organization that conducts war, holocaust, and genocide studies.
EA Sports has updated FIFA 20‘s FIFA Ultimate Team mode, which allows FIFA 20 users to collect player cards and form dream teams, to share information on the decision to remove van Basten’s ICON content. The message from the FIFA team to the community reads: “We are aware of the recent comments made by Marco van Basten. We have an expectation that our commitment to equality and diversity is upheld across our game. As such, we will suspend Marco van Basten ICON items from being available in Packs, SBCs and FUT Draft until further notice.” Van Basten’s ICON cards are still usable for players who acquired them before EA Sport’s decision to remove them.
EA Sports has made the decision to remove player content from Ultimate Team game modes in the past, and previously chose to remove Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice from Madden NFL 15 following Rice’s indictment on third-degree aggravated assault charges.
EA Sports is a major supporter of anti-racism initiatives in the soccer space. Following the racial abuse directed at the England team during an away game in Bulgaria for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, EA Sports released kits and other content for FIFA 20 to help promote the Premier League’s #NoRoomForRacism campaign. “Racism is not and never will be acceptable in sport or society,” Jesse Lingard, EA Sports FIFA 20 Ambassador said. “Everyone has the right to feel safe and included.”
Neither EA Sports or the FIFA 20 development team have announced whether van Basten’s FIFA Ultimate Team content will be reinstated in the future.