May 5, 2017 / 2:46 PM / 6 months ago

Brazilian club players sue over video game image rights

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - More than 20 Brazil-based footballers have won damages from the makers of top-selling video games and another 80 are lining up with similar suits that allege they are owed money for image rights, a lawyer for the players said on Friday.

The players, all of whom play in the Brazilian leagues, are suing EA Sports and Konami for money they say they are owed from as far back as 2007.

“We’ve won 20 cases so far in the first instance and haven’t lost any,” the players’ lawyer Joaquin Mina told Reuters, adding that the average settlement awarded so far is around 80,000 reais ($25,200). “I have more than 100 cases ongoing.”

EA Sports did not answer requests for comment and Konami could not be reached.

Among those suing are Santos goalkeeper Vanderlei, former Brazil full back Kleber, and Maxi Biancucchi, Lionel Messi’s cousin who plays for Bahia.

Mina said the case revolves around image rights legislation. Thousands of players are featured in the massively popular games and are paid a fee in return for their name and image.

In most countries that payment is made to FIFPro, the players’ group that negotiates a collective bargaining agreement with games’ manufacturers. FIFPro usually passes the money to national players’ unions to pay the players in that country.

However, Mina argued that arrangement does not apply in Brazil, where, he said, the law states each player must personally sign an authorisation form.

FIFPro confirmed the legislative differences and said it was aware of the court cases and was “working hard to find a definitive and long-lasting solution for the Brazilian market.”

The situation is a continuation of the legal wrangle that prompted games manufacturers to temporarily drop Brazilian teams from their games in 2014.

The clubs were later reinstated after an agreement was reached and the companies signed up some players individually, Mina said. However, many of the figures represented today at Brazil-based clubs are generic, he added.

($1 = 3.1753 reais)

Editing by Toby Chopra

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