When Electronic Arts decided to include a “rainbow kit” in its FIFA 17 soccer video game, it was a gentle nod to inclusion of LGBT people and video gamers. While there may be only one publicly out gay athlete in the game — the United States’ Robbie Rogers gets a rating of 70 — the gesture of including rainbow laces and jersey was nice (Rainbow Laces is a visibility campaign of the GBT-rights group Stonewall UK).
The Russians aren’t on board. Because there’s an LGBT-friendly rainbow kit buried in a corner of the game, various Russian elected officials are demanding EA create age restrictions to the rainbow uniforms or they will seek to ban the video game in Russia.
As you may remember from the Sochi Olympics, in 2013 Russia passed a law barring the promotion of homosexuality to youth. The law is interpreted widely, and this video game simply offering a way for LGBT people to feel included violates it.
Russians aren’t the only ones, as homophobic video gamers around the world are protesting the inclusion of rainbow colors and the LGBT community in their game.
One Communist MP in Russia, Valery Rashkin, is furious, saying EA must “introduce changes to the programming code or the age classification of this information product, and if it refuses, adopt corresponding restrictive measures.”
Russia is set to host the 2018 World Cup. If they don’t want rainbow colors on a video game, I can only imagine what the reaction will be if an actual out gay athlete like Rogers gets on a national team.