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EA Sports is set to bring back its college football video game in 2024, but its return is not being well-received by everyone.
Per Pete Nakos of On3.com, College Football Players Association vice president Justin Falcinelli urged players not to allow their names, image or likeness to be used in the game.
“All current players should boycott this deal,” Falcinelli said. “It is an opt-in deal, and they should not opt into it.”
Nakos’ report states the “cash pool for athletes was in the $5 million neighborhood, which would pay out to $500 per player.”
Sportico’s Eric Jackson reported last month that players also will not receive royalties for being in the game. EA Sports had announced that players would be paid for their NIL to be used in the upcoming release, but the deal doesn’t appear to be satisfactory to them.
“It is just a ridiculously low amount of money,” Falcinelli said. “Given the context and the hype that surrounds this game. When we first heard the number, we’re like, ‘Alright, that sounds low. Let’s go figure out if it is low.'”
Falcinelli, who was a two-year starting center for the Clemson Tigers and a member of their national championship teams in 2016 and 2018, said he explored what NFL players receive for their likeness being used in the Madden video game franchise. What he found was a massive pay disparity.
“Started talking to guys, talked to some of my friends, some guys who are still playing in the NFL,” said Falcinelli, who is now a data insight analyst in Baltimore. “‘So, what are NFL players getting paid for Madden?’ And the numbers we were given were from 2019, it was disclosed that they got, I think, about $17,000. And then a current NFL player told us that he got a check for $28,000 this year for Madden.”
EA Sports has contracted OneTeam Partners to facilitate the likeness of the college athletes, but Nakos pointed out that OneTeam Partners “will not give the athletes an opportunity to negotiate a more fair wage.” Falcinelli and CFBPA founder Jason Stahl said they’ve already been in contact with players about not handing over their NIL rights to EA Sports in exchange for the current pay scale.
“It’s exciting that we’re now at the point to where you can create group licensing deals for college football players to create this game. I think that is a huge milestone,” Falcinelli said. “But as soon as you get below the surface, it’s a bad deal. It’s another one of those things that seem to be the pattern in college football. Like, ‘Oh, there’s one thing that’s happening that sounds great.’ But then you dig into it, and you’re like, ‘All right, maybe a step in the right direction, but it’s still just exploiting the players.'”