By Andrew Downie
(Reuters) - Best-selling video football game "FIFA 15" was released in Brazil this week but a lack of organization by players means that for the first time since the 1990s there are no Brazilian clubs featured.
The popular game is the market leader in soccer-mad Brazil, but makers EA Sports could not reach a deal with Brazilian players over their image rights, or even work out who to negotiate with.
Although EA officials in California and Sao Paulo would not comment on the affair, their distributor in Brazil said the lack of a local presence was a blow.
"It's terrible," Daniel Landi said in an interview with sports newspaper Lance!
"The obstacle is that the contracts of athletes from around the world are covered by an entity called FIFPro. But this year the Brazilians are no longer represented by this association.
"The big problem is there is no one legal entity that represents Brazilian players and so the way round that would be to negotiate with each one and there are more than 600 players," he added.
"We want to negotiate a collective contract but we don't know how yet, if it is with the clubs or the agents."
FIFPro, the Amsterdam-based players' group that negotiates a collective bargaining agreement with games' manufacturers, said the Brazilian union had not provided them with the proper guarantees and that they were working to get Brazil back into the game.
"We understand the situation in Brazil and it is extremely unfortunate that we are unable to provide the collective image rights for that particular market," FIFPro's communications director Andrew Orsatti told Reuters.
"Clearly, this is of immense disappointment for those who want to see Brazil represented on these platforms and we hope all parties concerned can find a solution to this issue going forward."
If Brazilian players eventually opt in, the game can be updated but for now everyone loses, said Orsatti.
"From FIFPro's perspective, we believe that for the players, clubs and the Brazilian market in general, they would benefit greatly by being able to promote themselves via the computer entertainment industry to a much wider global audience," he added.
Brazil produces some of the world's best players and is the only country to win the World Cup five times. Almost every major European club has a Brazilian in their ranks and those players -- such as Neymar, David Luiz and Oscar -- are included in "FIFA 15".
But Brazil's domestic game is notoriously badly run. Most of the clubs are in debt and even some of the top teams in the country cannot afford to pay their players on time.
The absence of teams like Corinthians, Flamengo and Santos is also infuriating to local gamers.
"It was quite a blow, they really lost a lot by not having Brazilian teams," said Fernando Souza Filho, editor of industry site EGW/Gameworld, and an avid gamer.
"The die-hard fans that buy it every year prefer to play with European sides and in European leagues. But the occasional players, they want to play with Brazilian teams and players."
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; editing by Steve Tongue)