Women's soccer players to be featured in popular FIFA video game

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Gamers will be able to play female soccer players for the first time ever in the upcoming FIFA 16 video game. (KGO-TV)

Female soccer players will soon be coming to a popular video game this fall, but an announcement from a well-known company is sparking debate on social media.

For years, soccer fans say it's been difficult for female soccer players to achieve widespread recognition and they're hopeful that Thursday's announcement from EA changes that trend.

Redwood City-based EA, also known as Electronic Arts, made a surprise announcement. Women's national soccer teams from around the world will be included as part of the FIFA 16 video game set for release in September.

On the pitch at Stanford, women's soccer assistant coach Margueritte Aozasa shares her passion for the sport. "With the World Cup coming up, I think the timing is perfect," she said.

This marks the first time that gamers, especially young girls, will be able to play as a female athlete.

"They've already enjoy playing as the Messies and Ronaldos of the world, but I think now that they have a chance to play as Alex Morgan or to play as Megan Rapino, they'll be so excited," Aozasa said.

Major League Soccer President Mark Abbott called the decision a great move. "That game is hugely influential, we see that with our own league and the number of kids and young adults play it, not just in our country, but throughout the world," he said.

But there has been mixed reaction on social media, with some comments ranging from sexist to downright degrading.

"It's not about looking pretty and the nails, but it's about competing," Aozasa said.

Aozasa says it's best to keep things in perspective. "Realize how progressive this is and kind of the benefits of it, not just for the gaming world or whatever it may be, but for the youth of the nation right now and the young girls playing soccer," she said.

It's another step forward as one company tries to level the playing field.

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