With barely a week to its release, a new feature of Football Manager 2018 has caused controversy on social media.
For the first time ever, the hugely popular video game franchise will feature gay footballers.
The game’s director, Miles Jacobson revealed that football players will sometimes come out as gay in the game, giving your team a small revenue boost through ticket sales and merchandising.
“Part of the reason we decided to do this is because there are gay footballers,” Jacobson told BBC in an interview.
“We know from the amount of professionals that there has to be players who are gay but feel they don’t want to come out.
“I find it weird that it’s still a problem in football so we decided to try and show people that coming out isn’t a big deal and can be a positive thing.
“I just think it’s crazy that in 2017 we are in a world where people can’t be themselves.”
Jacobson said they were “able to do things with these players that we can’t with real players, because they can’t sue us”.
He explained that, if one of these players at your club comes out, you’ll find out from a news item in your in-game inbox.
Soon after, your commercial director will inform you of a boost in the club’s revenue, in part due to new attention from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Jacobson says that, after taking advice from anti-discrimination group Kick it Out, and having closely examined cases of players coming out in other sports, they believe they have arrived at the most representative future scenario.
“It will be: Right, OK, let’s move on. Everything will carry on perfectly normally, because that’s what we’ve have seen happen elsewhere,” he said.
“It’s not a message that everyone is going to see in their game. It is quite rare, but we want it to be seen as a positive thing.
“We also had to take some legal advice, because in some countries that are less forward-thinking than the UK, it is still illegal to be gay. In those cases we have simply respected their laws, so if a player is based in one of those countries, the player won’t come out.
“Being gay is just a totally normal thing in life, and it’s the right thing to put it in the game because it’s something that we’re going to be seeing in the future.”