OPINION: FIFA 21’s own goal - why no non-league teams from the Vanarama League like King’s Lynn?

PUBLISHED: 20:03 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 20:03 08 October 2020

Lionel Messi could play for King's Lynn if they were included in Fifa 21. Photo montage: Nancy Fallows

Lionel Messi could play for King's Lynn if they were included in Fifa 21. Photo montage: Nancy Fallows

Ian Burt Photography

It sells millions of copies in the UK so why not inspire gamers in places like King’s Lynn?

Gamers young and old will be hitting the shops and awaiting delivery of the new Fifa 21 video game which is released on October 9. It’s the 28th instalment of the mega-selling game franchise and as usual features computerised versions of more than 700 clubs from more than 30 leagues around the world.

The game, which has French football superstar Kylian Mbappé on the cover this year lets you play as any club – you can play as Norwich City and try to win the Championship or try to bring back a bit of glory to Barcelona and compete in a La Liga campaign.

But I think the game’s publishers, Electronic Arts, are missing a big trick by not including non-league teams.

You can play as any of the teams in England’s top four divisions – including for the first time this year Harrogate and Barrow, whose new league status means they are now featured.

However, Fifa doesn’t include non-league teams which means that despite games in the Vanarama National League game now being broadcast to the nation on BT Sport, an impressionable youngster in King’s Lynn can’t play a fictional game featuring the Linnets against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. But they can chose a team from Germany’s third tier or from Austria’s hardly inspiring top flight.

It surely wouldn’t take much effort to install 24 teams in generic kits and name them after the sides that make up the fifth tier in English football – after all, there are some big towns there, Chesterfield, Hartlepool, Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham and Notts County to name just a few _ with a combined population of hundreds of thousands of people.

I think it would help inspire youngsters to have more affection for their local team if they could lead them to fictional glory on video games like Fifa. How many times do you see a youngster in a Juventus or Barcelona shirt in a park or on the beach compared to a King’s Lynn or Lowestoft Town shirt?

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