Russia might ban FIFA 17 over ‘gay propaganda’ rainbow kit

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Russian MPs have called for football video game FIFA 17 to be banned because it allowed players to take part in the rainbow laces campaign.

The EA Sports game last month joined Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which sees real-life UK football teams stand up to homophobia.

A special Pride-themed football kit was made available as a free download for FIFA 17 players across PC, Xbox and Playstation gaming platforms as part of the tie-up.
Russia might ban FIFA 17 over ‘gay propaganda’ rainbow kit
An in-game message informed users: “Show your support for the Premier League and Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign with the Rainbow Kit. Wear it with pride and help raise awareness. Thanks, The FIFA Team.”

Although the promotion has since ended, politicians in Russia claimed the game violated the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law by making the downloadable kit available as part of the anti-homophobia campaign.

FIFA 17 has an ‘all ages’ rating from European games rating board PEGI, but Russian law strictly bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” aimed at minors.

According to Russian-language news outlets, Russian censorship body Roskomnadzor has been urged to open a probe into the potential violation of the ‘gay propaganda’ law.

The game is published by EA Canada, who are unlikely to be impacted by any ruling, but the watchdog could attempt to ban the game in Russia over the kit.

The Guardian reports that the issue was flagged by anti-gay parliamentarians – with Irina Rodnina, an MP from Vlaimir Putin’s United Russia Party, telling the Izvestia newspaper that the censorship body should probe the distribution of the rainbow kit to users in Russia.

She said: “Every country has its laws which must be obeyed.”

A statement said: “In November this year, it became known that the FIFA video game, developed by EA Canada, allows the users to support the English Premier League’s Rainbow Laces campaign campaign in support of the LGBT community. According to law, [Russia must] protect children from information harmful to their health or development, including propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships.”

Communist MP Valery Rashkin said that the publisher must make the game “compliant with the stated age group… in accordance with the Russian legislation”, warning that “the relevant restrictive measures” will be applied if no action is taken.

Russia is due to host the football World Cup in 2018.

Campaigners have repeatedly called for the country to be stripped of the contest over its restrictive anti-LGBT laws.