Every 'FIFA' Cover By Year: A Breakdown Of Soccer's Most Popular Video Game

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(Electronic Arts)

EA Sports' FIFA franchise, now known as EA Sports FC, is the most popular series of football simulation video games in the world. The franchise has been an integral part of the gaming world since its inception and consistently is a top-selling game every year. That means earning a nod as the FIFA cover athlete means you're one of the best in the world. FIFA games often include updated player rosters, improved artificial intelligence, and realistic physics to simulate the intricacies of the sport. The best FIFA games are hotly contested, but certain installments to the franchise have distanced themselves as some of the best sports games ever. The franchise has gained a massive fan base globally, with annual releases eagerly anticipated by football enthusiasts and gamers alike. Whether it's building out your "Ultimate Team" with new cards throughout the year or playing out your dream manager career for your favorite club, there is something for everyone in FIFA. Here is every FIFA cover by year. For a list of our most anticipated games for 2024, check out this article.

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All facets and statistics in this article are from EA.

1. EAFC 24

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 29th, 2023
  • Cover Athlete: Erling Haaland

For the first time since the games inception, EA Sports soccer video game in 2024 did not secure the rights to the FIFA game, leading to a new title for the franchise. Erling Haaland earned the title cover honors after breaking the Premier League goal scoring record and leading his club to a historic treble.

2. FIFA 23

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 30th, 2022
  • Cover Athletes: Kylian Mbappé, Sam Kerr

FIFA 23 was a seminal game in the FIFA series as it marked a release of the game during a World Cup year. That means the game was littered with World Cup content, tournament simulations, and a slew of other game modes. Sam Kerr notably became the first female to earn a spot on the cover of a FIFA game this year.

3. FIFA 22

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 1st, 2022
  • Cover Athletes: Kylian Mbappé

Superstar Kylian Mbappé earned his second honor as cover athlete for a FIFA game after another stellar year for PSG. A notable moment from this game cycle is when FIFA removed the Russian National Team from the game in solidarity with Ukraine after the invasions in 2022.

4. FIFA 21

Fifa 21 title screen
(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 9th, 2020
  • Cover Athletes: Kylian Mbappé

Kylian Mbappé earned his first honor as the FIFA cover athlete for the 2021 installment of the game. Notably, this game saw the departure of iconic commentators Derek Rae and Lee Dixon.

5. FIFA 20

FIFA 20 review
(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 27th, 2019
  • Cover Athlete: Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard earned a nod as the cover athlete of FIFA 19 after making a move to Real Madrid from Chelsea the previous summer. Notably, this was the first FIFA game to introduce the VOLTA game mode, a 3v3 mode that plays like the park does in NBA 2K games.

6. FIFA 19

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 28th, 2018
  • Cover Athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo

This was the second consecutive year that Cristian Ronaldo donned the cover of a FIFA game. FIFA had to change the cover image after Ronaldo made an unexpected move to Juventus. This game also notably added an update for the 2019 Women's World Cup adding tournament simulations and all national teams participating in the tournament.

7. FIFA 18

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 29th, 2017
  • Cover Athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo earned his first FIFA title cover nod after winning the Ballon d'Or in 2017. Notably this was the first year that Real Player Motion Technology was added to the game, giving a more realistic feel to gameplay.

8. FIFA 17

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 27th, 2016
  • Cover Athlete: Marco Reus

The FIFA 17 cover athlete honors went to none other than Borussia Dortmund legend Marco Reus. Some notable changes to this FIFA was the addition of new leagues like J1 League, J. League Cup, and Brasileiro Série B teams.

9. FIFA 16

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
  • Cover Athlete: Lionel Messi

For the fourth consecutive year, Lionel Messi earned the honors of being the FIFA cover athlete. This fourth nod distanced himself above nearly ever other player as he became the player with the third most times being the cover athlete of a FIFA game. Although Messi won the Ballon d'Or this past year, I highly doubt we see him on the cover of a FIFA game again.

10. FIFA 15

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
  • Cover Athlete: Lionel Messi

FIFA 15 would mark the third straight year of the GOAT Lionel Messi being the cover athlete for the starred franchise. This notably was the first FIFA to be fully licensed by the Premier League, adding new teams and tournaments to the game.

11. FIFA 14

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 24th, 2013
  • Cover Athlete: Lionel Messi

FIFA 14 was an iconic edition of the franchise, with numerous new additions to gameplay and teams. Notably, EA switched to the Ignite Engine for FIFA 14, building on and improving multiple graphical gameplay features.

10. FIFA 13

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 25th, 2012
  • Cover Athlete: Lionel Messi

FIFA 13 would mark the first year that Lionel Messi earned the cover athlete honors and would begin his four year reign as the cover athlete. Notably, FIFA 13 added First Touch Control for the first time, making dribbling that more realistic.

11. FIFA 12

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 30th, 2011
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere

FIFA 12 gave us a beautiful cover with two Premier League legends in Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere. Notably, FIFA 12 introduced changes to the Impact Engine, Tactical Defending, and Precision Dribbling as well.

12. FIFA 11

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 28th, 2010
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Kaká

The first FIFA game to release in the 2010's gave us an iconic cover with two legends in Wayne Rooney and Kaká. Rooney is a seminal piece of cover art for the FIFA franchise, having appeared on the cover on seven different occasions.

13. FIFA 10

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 1st, 2009
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard

The FIFA 10 cover gave us another flick of Wayne Rooney, but this time alongside Chelsea rival Frank Lampard. This was one of the most well received FIFA games, receiving a 90/100 on Metacritic.

14. FIFA 09

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 2nd, 2008
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho

FIFA 09 saw Ronaldinho grace the cover for his fifth and most likely final time. Alongside Ronaldinho was of course the FIFA cover king, Wayne Rooney.

15. FIFA 08

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 29th, 2007
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho

For the FIFA 08 cover we once again see Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho, but the latter is in his iconic Barca jersey. FIFA 08 notably was the first FIFA game to introduce 'Be a Pro Mode' where you can select a single player to lock onto during game play.

16. FIFA 07

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 13th, 2006
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho

Are you really surprised to see Wayne Rooney and Ronaldinho grace another FIFA cover together? It makes quite a lot of sense when the two were absolute dominating club and country competitions in in the 2000's.

17. FIFA 06

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 4th, 2005
  • Cover Athletes: Wayne Rooney, Ronaldinho

FIFA 06 introduced us to a whole new era of FIFA gameplay. In this rendition of the franchise, FIFA overhauled the games career mode entirely, creating a more immersive experience for fans.

18. FIFA 05

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 8th, 2004
  • Cover Athletes: Patrick Vieira, Fernando Morientes, Andriy Shevchenko

FIFA 05 gave us a trilogy of cover athletes from a slew of leagues across Europe. Patrick Vieira represents Arsenal and the Premier League, Fernando Morientes represents Real Madrid and La Liga, and finally Andriy Shevchenko represents Milan and Serie A.

19. FIFA 04

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 24th, 2003
  • Cover Athletes: Alessandro Del Piero, Thierry Henry, Ronaldinho

FIFA 04 gave us another trio of iconic cover athletes all representing different leagues in Europe. We have Alessandro Del Piero for Juventus of Serie A, Thierry Henry for Arsenal of the Premier League, and Ronaldinho for Barcelona of La Liga.

20. FIFA 03

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 25th, 2002
  • Cover Athletes: Roberto Carlos, Ryan Giggs, Edgar Davids

FIFA 03 gave us the first trio cover athlete, with three of the most notable figures in soccer at the time. Roberto Carlos of Real Madrid represents La Liga, Ryan Giggs of Manchester United represents the Premier League, and Edgar Davids of Juventus represents Serie A.

21. FIFA 02

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 30th, 2001
  • Cover Athlete: Thierry Henry

FIFA 02 gives us a glorious cover with Thierry Henry pictured front and center. This was the last cover athlete to feature a single player on the cover until FIFA 13 with Lionel Messi.

22. FIFA 01

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: November 3rd, 2000
  • Cover Athlete: Paul Scholes

Donning the FIFA 2001 cover is none other than legendary Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes. This was a memorable FIFA as it was the first of the franchise released in the 2000's.

23. FIFA 00

(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: October 26th, 1999
  • Cover Athlete: Sol Campbell

FIFA 2000 is an iconic installation to the franchise from the cover to the new features. The most notable feature was the capability to play consecutive seasons with a club. This opened up the door to earning a club promotion or multiple league titles, adding more longevity to the game.

24. FIFA 99

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: November 20th, 1998
  • Cover Athlete: Dennis Bergkamp

Gracing the cover of FIFA 99 is none other than legendary Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp. He earned the honors after guiding Arsenal to a Premier League title and leading the team in goals.

25. FIFA 98

fifa 98 cover uk
(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: November 8th, 1997
  • Cover Athlete: David Beckham

FIFA 98 gives us a beautiful cover with a young David Beckham donning his England national team kit. This FIFA had an extra emphasis on the world cup as the competition would be held during the games lifecycle.

26. FIFA 97

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: November 30th, 1996
  • Cover Athlete: David Ginola

FIFA 97 was a huge leap for the franchise in terms of gameplay and content. The game added a 6v6 indoor soccer mode as well as using cover athlete David Ginola for motion capture to create more accurate movement in game.

27. FIFA 96

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: September 30th, 1995
  • Cover Athletes: Ioan Ovidiu Sabau, Andy Legg

FIFA 96 gives us one of the most iconic covers not because of the players but simply for the action shot. Sadly for Andy Legg, his star moment on the cover of a FIFA game comes behind a missed tackle.

28. FIFA 95

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: November 10th, 1994
  • Cover Athletes: Erik Thorstvedt

FIFA 95 gives us maybe the most iconic cover to ever grace a FIFA game. Erik Thorstvedt may not be the most memorable name but the action shot of him saving a sure goal is legendary.

29. FIFA International Soccer

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(Electronic Arts)
  • Release Date: December 15th, 1993
  • Cover Athletes: David Platt, Piotr Świerczewski

I'm not sure if EA truly knew what they were doing when releasing FIFA International Soccer in 1993. What began as a modest way to celebrate the World Cup spawned the biggest sports video game franchise ever.

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