Video game publisher Konami is ending its 10-year partnership with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the sports organization announced Wednesday. The two will part ways after the 2018 UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv, Ukraine.
UEFA is the governing body of European football, representing 55 national associations across the continent According to its website, some of its objectives include promoting and protecting ethical standards, maintaining relations with all stakeholders, and promotion of the sport without discrimination of politics, race, religion, or gender.
The UEFA Champions League was a key feature in Konami’s “Pro Evolution Soccer” franchise. “PES” first launched in 2001 and has been an annual moneymaker for Konami, although it’s reportedly declined in recent years. It sold 40 times less than Electronic Arts’ rival franchise “FIFA” in 2017, according to Metro.
Now that Konami and the UEFA are ending their partnership, the UEFA Champions League, which was playable both as a separate tournament and as part of the Master League career mode, is leaving the series, along with the Europa League.
Jonas Lygaard, senior director of brand and business development for Konami Digital Entertainment B.V., said the company is shifting focus into other areas this year. It recently signed a long-term exclusive agreement with soccer star David Beckham, who will appear in PES 2018’s myClub mode, along with runner Usain Bolt.
“We will continue to explore alternative ways UEFA and Konami can continue to work together, as our relationship remains strong,” Lygaard said.
“Konami has been a strong licensing partner for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, with our competition brand being heavily featured within the video game and as part of the popular Konami-organised UEFA Champions League e-sports tournaments,” said Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of UEFA Events SA. “It has been a very cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership. UEFA would like to thank Konami for its tremendous commitment and support to UEFA club competitions for the last decade and we look forward to continuing to work with Konami in the sphere of UEFA national team football.”
There’s no word yet on whether or not EA will snag a deal with the UEFA for its “FIFA” franchise now that it’s up for grabs.