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EA has removed former AC Milan striker and Dutch legend Marco van Basten from FIFA 20 on all platforms. The 55-year-old ex-pro used the Nazi term "Sieg Heil" on air during a Fox Sports TV broadcast shortly after Ajax's 4-1 victory over Heracles in the Eredivisie last week.
"Sieg Heil" literally translates as "Hail Victory" in German, but the term has long been synonymous with racism and Nazism - the Nazis infamously used the phrase as part of their salute.
Despite having been retired for many years now, van Basten featured in FIFA's popular Ultimate Team mode, which allows gamers to build their own teams using any footballers from any league. In an official statement, EA confirmed that van Basten's cards will no longer appear in Ultimate Team packs. The player will also not feature in Squad Building Challenges, "until further notice".
"We are aware of the recent comments made by Marco van Basten," reads an EA statement upon opening Ultimate Team. "We have an expectation that our commitment to quality and diversity is upheld across our game. As such, we will suspend Marco van Basten icon items from being available in Packs, SBCs and FUT Draft until further notice."
Fox Sports also condemned van Basten for his comments, describing them as "stupid and inappropriate". His fee for the show was instead donated to a Dutch institute that educates folk about World War II. He was also suspended for one week by the broadcaster.
Van Basten has since claimed that his remark - which was made off camera but picked up by studio mics - wasn't intentionally malicious. "I didn't mean to shock people, I just wanted to ridicule Hans' German, but I'm sorry," he said in response to Fox's suspension.
According to EA, if you already own Van Basten's ICON card in Ultimate Team, you'll still be able to play with him in your team. For now, at least.
It's currently unclear whether or not EA intends to add van Basten back into FIFA 20 at any point, or if the player will feature in future FIFA titles.
EA's use of the phrase "until further notice" does seem to suggest that van Basten faces a temporary ban from the game in a similar fashion to Fox's punishment. However, it could also be that the publisher is currently working out whether or not further, more permanent action needs to be taken.
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