‘White digital footballers can’t jump’: (re)constructions of race in FIFA 20

Paul Ian Campbell, Marcus Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on the quantitative datasets of Electronic Arts’ FIFA 20 top 100 players and their qualitative descriptors, the paper addresses the following: (1) How do ideas of race manifest and influence digital worlds? (2) How do digital football simulations (games) disrupt or reproduce racialised stereotypes and logics found within football in the social world? (3) How does playing football video games contribute to users’ understandings of race and sport. This paper, the first in-depth study of its kind, provides new empirical insights into the presence of the ‘natural athlete’ discourse within the operative datasets that underpin White and Black digital player performances in FIFA 20. We conclude that FIFA 20 is a site for a potent experiential socialisation in racialised myths, where gamers come to know race and the racialized other in sport through feeling the racialized differences of the procedurally generated natural athlete quite literally through their controllers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)894-908
Number of pages15
JournalSoccer and Society
Issue number8
Early online date10 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of '‘White digital footballers can’t jump’: (re)constructions of race in FIFA 20'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this