Electronic Arts, the gaming company that makes the popular FIFA video game franchise, is bringing women to the virtual pitch, adding 12 women’s national teams to FIFA 16 this September.
EA announced Thursday that a dozen women’s international soccer teams will be included in the coming FIFA 16 game scheduled for release in September. EA didn’t say in its announcement why it took so long to mend the gender gap or whether the petition played a role. In an email, EA said it had been considering adding women for years and that it had made the necessary advancements to more accurately represent how the characters run and sprint, for example. The game’s motion capturing tracked four members of the U.S. Women’s National Team: Sydney Leroux, Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe.
EA’s decision came three years after an online petition called for inclusion—and right before this year’s Women’s World Cup starts next week in Canada. (It also came a day before Sepp Blatter won his fifth term as FIFA president, with the governing body embroiled in the ongoing corruption crisis.)
Last fall, a group of women’s soccer stars, including US forward Abby Wambach, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit claim against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association over the organization’s decision to play this year’s World Cup games on artificial turf, even though the men’s games are played on grass. The group later withdrew the suit. And in an interview with Time, star US forward Alex Morgan, who will be featured in the new game, said that Blatter didn’t recognize her at the 2012 FIFA Player of the Year event—even though she’d just been named one of the three best women’s players in the world.