Sony was offered a FIFA license in the 90s but declined.


Highlights of the story

  • Tom Stone, EA’s former vice president of European marketing, explained that Sony was offered a FIFA license by soccer giant ISL in the 90s.
  • Chris Deering, then president of Sony PlayStation Europe, assured Tom that he would not accept the deal unless EA reached an agreement with a licensor.
  • Sony decided to reject the deal to ensure a healthy relationship with EA.

EA’s former Vice President of European Marketing, Tom Stonerecently published in an interview with Time extension And shared a really interesting story. The former VP explained that FIFA was at a major crossroads in the 90s. FIFA reached out to the license owner and the then soccer company, ISL. Sony and offered him a license in secrecy. The publisher rejected such an agreement to promote a future relationship with EA.

Chris Deering (then president of Sony PlayStation Europe) met me and said, ‘We’ve been offered the rights to FIFA Soccer’. I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. seriously? The ISL has contacted you and asked if you would like an exclusive worldwide license for FIFA. After everything we have done for them?’ I was really cross,” Tom Stone said.

Chris Deering Assuring Tom that he would not go through with the deal. In fact, he said that Sony would not pursue the FIFA license if Tom Stone could not reach an agreement with the football company. Tom explained that the president of Sony PlayStation Europe at the time had long-term ambitions and did not want to damage the partnership with EA.

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But Chris said to me, ‘I’m not going to sign the contract unless you can come to an agreement with FIFA. This is your deal. You made it.’ Obviously, Chris was looking at the ‘big picture’ at the support that EA gave PlayStation around the world. I think it would be an interesting conversation if Sony signed the deal. I think EA would have responded very badly to this.

The relationship between EA and the FIFA brand was also a little shaky behind the scenes. The publisher was considering dropping the license earlier than last year. Producer of various FIFA entries in the 90s, Mark O’Bonnellalso stated that EA is doing more for FIFA from a branding perspective for the publisher than for the licensor.

So we were discussing dropping them for decades before EA finally dropped them. The only reason they didn’t was because marketing was afraid of losing that brand awareness. We had built a lot of equity in the brand. We were tired of paying for it, but every time we had to renegotiate with FIFA, they just didn’t want to risk rebranding it,” O’Bnell said.

If Sony had supported the license since the 90s, we could have seen a major change in FIFA titles. It may consider reaching out to the brand now that EA has lost access to the FIFA license. But that seems unlikely as such a move could end the relationship between the two – a similar reason in the 90s.

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