FIFA 23 Introduces The First Hijab-Wearing Player

Nouhaila Benzina stares out at a blurry field during a game.

Photo: Maddie Meyer / FIFA (Getty Images)

A recent FIFA 23 update adds 25-year-old Moroccan footballer Nouhaila Benzina’s hijab to her in-game character model, signifying the first time EA’s soccer simulator has ever included a head covering on a player.

History necessitated it: Benzina, whose team is reshaping global expectations by killing this year’s Women’s World Cup, is also the first senior-level World Cup player to wear a hijab during a game. FIFA completely lifted its head coverings ban (which existed, strangely, out of fear of coverings impacting player “safety”) in 2014 (when it discovered that a tied strip of cloth is not exactly a safety hazard).

It’s taken nearly a decade for a player like Benzina to take full advantage of the altered policy, though, no doubt in part because of the unfair and conflicting cultural roles placed specifically on Muslim women. These stringencies include those placed on women by countries like France, which defies FIFA rules and bans French soccer players from wearing headscarves.

But the Moroccan team has been pushing forward. “We are honored to be the first Arab country to take part in the Women’s World Cup,” said Morocco team captain Ghizlane Chebbak ahead of its win against South Korea on July 30. “We feel that we have to shoulder a big responsibility to give a good image, to show the achievements the Moroccan team has made.” Benzina wearing her hijab on the field that day, and every day, was a simple act of self-determination, one that sends pride rippling through the world.

“I have no doubt that more and more women and Muslim girls will look at Benzina and just really be inspired—not just the players, but I think decision makers, coaches, other sports as well,” said Muslim Women in Sports Network co-founder Assmaah Helal told the Associated Press earlier this summer.

Other updates from FIFA 23’s Title Update 16 include fixed stadium graphics, bug fixes for injured players, and an “added ability to switch between Online and Offline status” on EA Social.


FIFA 23 Tiktok Trend Sees Fans Rewriting The Women’s World Cup

If you, like me, are furious that your team is out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there’s a TikTok trend that serves as a good outlet for your rage. All you have to do is boot up FIFA 23 and get your revenge by beating the absolute piss out of, say, Sweden, racking up the score until it’s high enough that you could mistake it for a basketball game.

This “revenge game” trend isn’t new (there’s older TikTok videos of players doing similar things in NBA 2K games or boxing titles), but it is going viral during this current Women’s World Cup. When the U.S. Women’s National Team was unceremoniously booted from the round of 16 after losing to Sweden in penalty kicks, one TikTok user almost immediately uploaded a video of them walloping the Swedes in an FIFA 23 match.

Read More: Women Are Staying In FC 24 Ultimate Team, Go Cry About It

The USWNT are even wearing the same uniforms they did during that fateful August 6 game, though in this version of events, they win by at least 17 goals. “Had to get my anger out,” the caption on the video reads as audio of someone aggressively breathing plays over it.

If you’re Australian and bummed that your team is no longer in the running even though you’re the host country, you can play England in FIFA 23 and pretend that late, third goal in the August 16 semi-final game never happened. Someone on TikTok already has, putting a different heavy, angry breathing audio track over a clip of Australia beating England 94-0. The on-screen graphics even perfectly match the branding for the ‘23 WWC, a testament to how dedicated FIFA 23 is to realism (except for, ya know, the score). “It’s only been 4 hours,” someone commented.

It’s unclear what settings these players are inputting in order to rack up such ridiculously high goal numbers, but FIFA 23 does have its own Women’s World Cup mode where you can select what stage you want to play in (group stage, round of 16, semi-finals, and so on), and what teams you want to see face off. It also has player ratings based on this tournament, with Australia’s Sam Kerr at the very top (no surprise there).

I don’t have FIFA 23, but I’m seriously considering getting it just so I can see the Women’s World Cup play out as it should have: Lynn Williams would start every match, Crystal Dunn would be back at forward, and Carli Lloyd and Alexi Lalas would be on mute.

EA Removes Every FIFA Game From PS5 And Other Stores

You can no longer buy last year’s hit soccer game, FIFA 23. Nor any other older game from the famous Electronic Arts sports franchise. At least, not digitally.

The publisher has pulled every FIFA game that was previously for sale on the PlayStation 5, Xbox, Switch, Steam, and Epic Games storefronts. The move, first noticed by industry analyst MauroNL, comes ahead of the launch of EA Sports FC 24, the newest game in the series which was re-branded earlier this year after EA abandoned the FIFA licence amid ongoing renewal negotiations.

While some DLC packs for the games, which date back to FIFA 14 on modern platforms, are still available on the storefronts, the games themselves are either missing or don’t show an option to purchase. On Steam, where FIFA 23 has accrued over 100,000 user reviews and a rating of “mixed,” a notice reads: “At the request of the publisher, EA SPORTS™ FIFA 23 is unlisted on the Steam store and will not appear in search.”

It’s not clear if the games will return at some point in a different form, or whether their removal will be permanent. EA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FIFA games, and now EA Sports FC, come out every year with updated rosters but often minimal changes to the underlying modes and mechanics. EA Sports FC 24, which arrives September 29, currently has a 76 on Metacritic, with GamesRadar calling it the “most playable” version of the series in years, while Eurogamer called it “business as usual.”

Chief among the improvements is a streamlining of Ultimate Team, the series’ loot box mode where players collect packs of cards and then use them to construct hyper-talented all-star squads. According to GamesRadar, EA has improved the feel of the mode on the field, and added an “Evolution” feature for leveling up players’ skills, as well as mixed in star female players who were previously kept separately.

Ultimate Team is the real reason many players shell out for a new version of FIFA every year, abandoning the game they paid $70 for just 12 months prior. It’s also been supremely lucrative for EA, which rakes in more money from microtransactions than the sale of the new games themselves. Though apparently not enough to make the publisher want to pay the International Football Federation the $1 billion it was reportedly requesting to renew the FIFA brand.

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