We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

A FIFA pro just lost $300,000 in World Cup final blasted a “disgrace”

A rather controversial decision from FIFAe has left one FIFA esports pro player missing out on $300,000 and the FIFA esports World Cup winners medal.

FIFA 23 esports World Cup final controversy: an image of Manchester United Marcus Rashford frowning

We know a lot of people dream of professionally playing one of the best soccer games out there (like FIFA 23) at the highest level of competition, but it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. An example of this would be FIFAe’s recent FIFA esports World Cup final, an occasion labelled “the lowest day in FIFA esports history” by esports pro player Tom Leese. Why was this so bad, though? Well, because FUTWIZ player Mark ‘Mark11’ Zakhary was seemingly cheated out of the winner’s $300,000 prize thanks to a controversial decision (or, more-accurately a lack of decision) from the tournament’s admins.

The controversial decision in question is the one made by tournament organizers FIFAe to not stop the FIFA esports World Cup final’s penalty shootout after Mark11 raised concerns that his input overlay was active and being displayed on all the big screens all around the Boulevard Riyadh City venue – where the final was being held. This would have meant that Mark11’s opponent, Team Gullit’s Manuel Bachoore, would have had ample opportunity to see Mark11’s inputs while playing. This would help them win the penalty shootout, the FIFA esports World Cup final, and $300,000 in prize money with an unfair competitive advantage.

Yeah, when you think about the fact that one player had the chance to see exactly where the other was placing each penalty, it’s clear to see why this would be controversial – just at this level. However, that’s not all.

What makes all of this even worse is that, as FUTWIZ explains, “Mark clearly raised the issue three times before penalties started and nothing was done”. This reflection on the events that transpired is reinforced by Leese’s claims that Mark raised the issue seven times throughout the FIFA esports World Cup final penalty shootout.

FIFA 23 esports World Cup final FUTWIZ statement

From what we can tell, the real controversy lies in the fact that FIFAe officials called on Team Gullit to stop the penalty shootout once they were aware of the issue, as this footage shared by FUTWIZ co-founder Dan Bellis shows, but then nothing was done to actually take action on this apparent decision. So, the final itself continued.

We have reached out to Bellis for further comments on FUTWIZ’s position following the event. However, you can read what Bellis has had to say below:

FIFA 23 esports World Cup final FUTWIZ co-founder comment


Addressing the situation, FIFAe has issued a statement that explains that “all players have been informed at the start of the FIFAe World Cup 2023 that if they actively decide themselves to show the input overlay, it might be displayed on broadcast and in the arena” – which reportedly shows “the feed of the home console”.

“After thorough review of the footage, we can also confirm that no player received a competitive advantage as the opposite team only watched their own screen”. This is something we have to trust FIFAe has got correct – otherwise, it’s a huge failing in the organizer’s attempt at keeping the competition fair and balanced.

Interestingly, it also claimed that “the same situation occurred during the semi-finals including a penalty shootout and no further concerns have been raised by the players prior to the start of the final”. Bellis, in counter to this, says that “Mark didn’t clock [this issue] in the semi-final”; when he did in this penalty shootout, he “raised his hand as instructed”.

FIFA 23 esports World Cup final FIFAe statement

On balance, it’s quite hard to say whether FIFAe has made the right decision or not. Of course, the fact that Bachoore’s team was asked to stop – and then it didn’t – does raise some concerns. Although, it does look like there was some miscommunication there – and it’s hard to say Bachoore is at fault. Interestingly, though, Team Gullit hasn’t actually commented on the final yet – beyond the expected celebrations. Esports pro Tom Stokes has commented that “[Bachoore] is a very good guy” and thinks it’s entirely possible that he didn’t notice the overlay at all – as the FIFAe statement claims.

It’s also hard to lay the blame on Zakhary, however, even though he is partially at fault for activating the input overlay – which, as far as we know, was intentional. The fact that he spent so long trying to flag the issue would be distraction-enough. Although, whether you’re using this feature or not, we can’t help but feel as though it shouldn’t be shown anywhere except the player’s screen. Even from a spectator’s stand-point, it takes away from the spectacle and unpredictable nature of the game.

It’s a bit of a long one, but you can watch the whole final below if you want to see how the action unfolded and how we reached this point of contention.

YouTube Thumbnail

If you’re looking forward to EA Sports’ next soccer game, though, you can find out more about the FC 24 release date right here. This is one of the most interesting upcoming PS5 games (and upcoming Xbox games), and you can read about some of the most important changes right here.