EA Sports: It's Not in the Game

FIFA’s breakup with EA Sports leads fans to speculate who would have been on the covers we’ll never get.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Every year, soccer enthusiasts flock to the shelves to buy the latest edition of the FIFA video game, created by the company EA Sports. The cover athlete each year is entered into the sport’s history as a great. Iconic covers such as Lionel Messi’s on FIFA 14 and Ronaldinho’s on FIFA 07 have become collector's items. FIFA has become a sport unto itself, with tournaments and leagues, a truly global phenomenon fit only for the world’s biggest sport.

FIFA to EA Sports has been yin to yang, Xavi to Iniesta, Thierry Henry to Dennis Bergkamp, and Carles Puyol to Gerald Piqué for as long as young fans can remember. FIFA, seeking to make its own game and with it its own profits, has broken that bond, terminating its deal with EA Sports. This decision has left FIFA 23 as the final edition of arguably the most prolific video game franchise of all time.

EA Sports will continue to produce the game under the guise EA Sports FC, while FIFA plans to make its own game. With the FIFA franchise all but over, let’s take a look at some of the covers from rising stars we may never get to see.

Not FIFA 24: Erling Haaland

Haaland has been a goal-scoring machine for Dortmund, and the young Norwegian’s move to Manchester City puts him in the spotlight atop the best league in the world. EA Sports fans would have loved to see Haaland, possibly in his meditation celebration, on the cover with FIFA across the bottom, but sadly, that image is a reality we can never see.

Not FIFA 25: Vinícius Júnior

Vini Jr. has taken the world by storm. The 21-year-old Brazilian has shown out in big moments, including his incredible dummy goal in the Champions League semifinals versus Manchester City. If his development continues at this meteoric pace, he could be the face of the Brazilian Seleção for years to come. Unfortunately, though, we’ll never see him on an EA Sports FIFA cover.

Not FIFA 26: Phil Foden

Having been recently voted as the Premier League’s Young Player of the Year, the Englishman is well on his way to superstardom. Once he gets his goal and assist numbers up to rival the best of the best, a FIFA cover will have been inevitable.

Not FIFA 27: Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna

Call this situation an American fan’s fever dream, but a Pulisic x Reyna cover in 2027 would not have been all that unlikely. Picture this: it’s right after the 2026 American/Canadian/Mexican-hosted World Cup, and the USMNT has made an improbable run to the semifinals. Pulisic has scooped up the tournament Golden Boot. New American ownership of Chelsea has bought Reyna from Dortmund, forming a dynamic States duo across the pond. Captain America will have Chelsea level with Manchester City in points atop the Premier League, in no small part thanks to league assists leader Reyna. If only…

Not FIFA 28: Jude Bellingham

Eighteen-year-old Bellingham may become Dortmund’s latest talent-turned-superstar. Surely to be in the Premier League or La Liga by the 2027-2028 campaign, the English midfielder could develop into a Kevin De Bruyne or N'Golo Kanté. He’ll be following in the footsteps of Dortmund products like Robert Lewandowski and Haaland.

Not FIFA 29: Pedri, Gavi, Ansu Fati

The 19-year-old Spaniard Pedri has been hailed as the heir to Messi. He is a magnetic presence in any Barcelona game, guiding his way through, around, and over defenders with ease. Now the face of a young, resurgent, recovering Barça, he was bound to grace a cover—perhaps even with his teammate and La Masia product Gavi and the rising star Ansu Fati.

Not FIFA 30: Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

The son of a now retired legend, the Manchester United youth academy product will be leading a resurgence at Old Trafford. With Pep Guardiola gone and sanctions imposed on its oil power owners, Manchester City will be able to do nothing but watch as Ronaldo Jr. nets hat trick after hat trick in the Manchester Derby.