Sony was offered a FIFA license back in the 90s but turned it down

October 8, 2023 by No Comments


The main points of the story

  • EA’s former vice president of European marketing, Tom Stone, clarified that Sony was offered a FIFA license in the 1990s by the soccer company, ISL.
  • The president of Sony PlayStation Europe at the time, Chris Dearing, assured Tom that she would not accept the deal unless EA reconciled with the licensor.
  • Sony made the decision to delay the deal to ensure a healthy relationship with EA.

Former VP of European Marketing for EA, Tom StoneRecently appeared in an interview with extra time And shared a really interesting story. The former VP clarified that FIFA was at a major crossroads in the 1990s. FIFA’s licensee and then-soccer company ISL approached Sony and secretly offered the license. The publisher turned down such a deal so that the relationship with EA would thrive in the future.

Chris Dearing (president of Sony PlayStation Europe at the time) met with me and said, ‘We’ve been offered the rights to FIFA Soccer.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. Seriously? ISL approached you and asked if you wanted an exclusive worldwide license for FIFA? After everything we’ve done for them?’ I was really nervous,” said Tom Stone.

Chris Dearing Promised Tom he wouldn’t go through with the deal. In fact, he said that Sony would not pursue a FIFA license if Tom Stone could not come to terms with the soccer company. Tom makes it clear 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 told me, ‘I won’t sign this agreement unless you can come to terms with FIFA.’ This is your deal. You created it’. Obviously Chris was looking at the ‘big picture’ about the support EA gave to PlayStation around the world. I think it would have been an interesting conversation had Sony signed this deal. I think EA would react pretty badly to that.”

The relationship between EA and the FIFA brand was also a bit shaky behind the scenes. The publisher looked at revoking the license much earlier than it eventually did last year. The producer of various FIFA values ​​in the 90s, Mark O’BnellAlso said that EA does more for FIFA than the licensor did for the advertiser in terms of branding.

So we were in discussions about dropping them for decades before EA finally degraded them. The only reason they didn’t was because the marketing was petrified of losing awareness of that brand. We have built so much equity in this brand. We’re tired of paying for it, but every time we had to renegotiate with FIFA, they just didn’t want to take that risk of having to rebrand it,” Obnell said.

We could have seen a major change in FIFA titles if Sony had held the license since the 90s. It might consider approaching the brand now that EA has lost access to the FIFA license. But that seems unlikely as such a move could miss the connection between the two – a reason similar to that of the 90s.

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