In a bizarre move from Electronic Arts(EA), Juventus and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has been replaced as cover star less than five months after launch.
As of last week, all copies of FIFA19 sold by EA do not depict the five times Balon d’Or winner; but display Kevin De Bruyne,Neymar and Paulo Dybala instead. EA announced the news at 10:00 am on the 6th February via Twitter, with no intention of what this move means for their professional relationship with Ronaldo.
It is currently unknown whether or not the impending court case and recent rape allegations by Kathryn Mayorga have impacted this decision, but many are pointing to EA’s official response to the accusations from October 2018 as a reason to suggest there have been developments in the case to warrant his removal.
“We have seen the concerning report that details allegations against Cristiano Ronaldo. We are closely monitoring the situation, as we expect cover athletes and ambassadors to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with EA’s values.”
While this does seem like a potential cause for his removal, it is surprising that it has taken almost four months since this comment for it to occur. Perhaps EA were waiting for this massive promotion campaign for their Champions League features to arrive to make the switch, or they have been tipped off by a source about a development in the case or, the most probable cause, it has no relation to the claims. Ronaldo has only featured on one prior cover of the EA title, and given that his direct competitor Lionel Messi featured for four consecutive editions; it is wondered whether any standing contract between the two parties has been put on pause until the case is concluded. We will only know for sure once ‘FIFA 20′ hits our shelves.
The closest EA has come to changing their cover stars was with FIFA 13, when their partnership with the Premier League meant that some Premier League clubs were given their own, printable sleeve for fans and a limited amount of stock was released with these covers as default.
(Image: Electronic Arts)
Ronaldo has continuously denied the allegations, and the investigations into the claims have not concluded at the time of writing.