EA's decision to include Kinect functionality in FIFA 13 seems like an inevitable transition for the franchise. Considering Microsoft's eager push to make major franchises "Better With Kinect", it wouldn't be long before the world's biggest games publishers started using the peripheral. Yet the way EA has chosen to integrate Kinect into FIFA 13 goes against the sport of football and the FIFA organisation itself.

For those who don't know, Kinect voice functionality allows players to swear at referees during matches. While this may seem humorous at first, or just a bit of harmless fun, allowing this kind of behaviour sends a horrible message to players, particularly young football fans.

A few years ago, FIFA launched the "Respect the Ref" campaign, with the aim to clamp down on professional players using foul and abusive language toward match officials. Referees were advised to issue yellow cards to players for dissent as soon as they began acting aggressively towards referees, with the hope of eradicating this ugly side of football.

The campaign still exists in 2012, and so too does the abuse of referees. Anyone who has watched a Premier League match will have seen close-ups of players silent but clearly visible choice words as they receive their punishment. This is without the torrent of abuse officials get from the stands by us, the fans.

Now, EA has decided to allow this dark side of the sport to exist in the official game of the world governing body for football. David Rutter once told me that diving isn't in FIFA because EA doesn't want players to outright cheat in their efforts to win. Considering that the FIFA series is supposed to represent football at its very best, to include one of the worst aspects of the modern game is bemusing. What do they hope to gain from this addition? How does it benefit our playing experience? All it does is acknowledge a player's outbursts of frustration.

I know what most people are thinking: it's just a game. That's the wrong approach - EA's FIFA series is more than that. What players experience in the game will carry over into how they perceive real football, and if young players consider it acceptable to swear at match officials, especially as swearing will go unpunished in FIFA 13, why wouldn't they continue this behaviour with real football?

FIFA 13 screenshot

Sports fans are some of the most passionate people there are. I know this because I have seen them cheer their teams on valiantly from the stands. I also know this because I have been punched, kicked, and thrown to the dirt by a large number of them at a children's football match.

I have been to countless Premier League football matches, and heard the vile abuse aimed at players and referees alike for the minute errors they inevitably make. I've also played, coached, and refereed amateur football, and experienced the abuse first-hand. This abuse starts with words, but can very quickly turn into physical violence.

Whilst coaching a group of 11 year-olds one Sunday, a group of dozens of overly passionate and aggressive parents were screaming at the referee for his decision-making. One parent was particularly intimidating and aggressive towards both our team and the referee. When his son was on the end of what he perceived to be an incorrect decision, a series of angry shouts began to pour from his mouth. Despite attempts to calm him down, he decided to the only way his son would understand the 'true passion' of football was by throwing me to the ground. I was then kicked repeatedly by a group of angry parents, all in the name of football.

I have experienced the best and worst sides of the sport, and its a shame that now the abuse of referees has become so normal that its part of the videogame franchise. Players abusing referees in FIFA 13 without punishment runs the risk of creating an attitude of words without consequences, one that can easily be carried into competitive football. I hope in the future we spend more time talking about the brilliance of a player's hands and feet than the harshness of a player's mouth.

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User Comments

Raymo's Avatar


Brett I think you are being extremely neurotic and over the top here.

I guess you will want fans who watch live football on TV at home not to shout at the TV when things are not going their way?

Unfortunately THIS IS part of football, its been going on since the beginning of time, if you want this to change then you will have to sit in the stadiums where the game is played and tell off, arrest thousands of fans for disagreeing with the ref.

If you want things to change you are attacking at the wrong end of the beast.

If you listened to the promo video, shouting at the game will have a negative effect on your campaign. It's not like it just letting you shout at the game for the hell of it which will probably happen regardless if the kinect feature was there or not. To me that sounds like it's discouraging people from doing so.

I can understand you have had a bad experience in the past but if people are being attacked over a game of football then that's why we have law enforcement.

Did you just write this article to grab some attention?

I'm off to rob a bank in GTA V, maybe bang a few strippers. I sure hope all this computer game stuff doesn't lead to a life of crime and regret
Posted 15:12 on 11 November 2013
Wido's Avatar

Wido@ Bloodstorm

I see both sides of the coin here regarding abuse to the ref's. You are both right, yet Bev being more realistic, as it is part of the sport. Now, before yourself or anyone else jumps the gun let me explain first.

The FA and even UEFA & FIFA support the stamp out abuse to refs with there campaigns they have. Its part of the game, because its always been there, and the refs should acknowledge such response and the fans hailing abuse as well. I don't agree with it at all that these highly paid footballers can abuse the refs, as they are regarded as role models for kids.

Going back to the FIFA games. Surrounding the ref is actually a bookable offence with players arguing the case and not letting the ref any space so to speak. Previous FIFA games have had such animations which can draw controversy.

This Kinect feature isnt bad at all. I swear at the ref all day long when watching like ALL football fans do, as its all part of the game, even if we disagree with it.
Posted 07:27 on 05 August 2012
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ rbevanx

It is NOT part of the game, how many players have been told/sent off and fined for that type of behaviour? The amount of referees that have quit because of abuse is also something that should be taken into account.

Absolutely unacceptable behaviour.
Posted 19:02 on 03 August 2012
Clockpunk's Avatar


The way I see it, footballites will likely shout/curse at the referee anyways, so why not implement it as a little side mechanic?
Posted 18:57 on 03 August 2012
dav2612's Avatar


The only time I've even really noticed the ref in a FIFA game is when the ball hits him. Other than that they are certainly less of a part than in real football. But I really see no need at all for the Kinect feature.
Posted 14:12 on 03 August 2012
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ CheekyLee

Well killing hookers in GTA isn't nice etc and if you like it or not, telling ref's this and that is part of our game today.

I don't wanna play a game where I feel restricted and this is something that offers me more freedom if anything possibly. If I wanna tell the ref the decision is wrong, why can't I? Yes some are gonna swear at the ref but that their decision just like in real life.

and if you don't wanna use it then don't use it and if you are gonna get disgusted by a game then don't but FIFA anyway as the online is most likely gonna be worse.

I think the idea of controlling how people should play a game is a bad thing and this at least offers another dimension to the game.

It's when its "No Russian" that the bounderies are truly pushed which I disagree with.
Posted 11:56 on 03 August 2012
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ rbevanx

Nice? How is it nice? It is not a nice feature at all. It's downright nasty. Unless the referee gives you a card for it, there is absolutely no reason to include it at all. I can already swear at the ref in FIFA 12, and I don't even own Kinect.

We see enough of this nonsense already whenever Man Utd or Chelsea get any kind of call against them. It should be punished, not promoted.
Posted 11:40 on 03 August 2012
rbevanx's Avatar


Good article but I personally disagree.

I think it's a nice feature and it's up to players if they wish to be abusive to the ref.

If people are gonna be disguted by it so much then they shouldn't buy a FIFA game anyway as I'm sure people online will say some truly disgusting things which is why most people buy it to try and beat real players online.
Posted 11:25 on 03 August 2012
s_h_a_d_o's Avatar


"... the way EA has chosen to integrate Kinect into FIFA 13 goes against the sport of football and the FIFA organisation itself."

Moreover, the very concept of 'sport' itself.
Posted 02:45 on 03 August 2012

Game Stats

Release Date: 28/09/2012
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA SPORTS
Genre: Sports
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 903 83
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