Following intense battles on the virtual football pitches during the qualifying stages of the third annual FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), FIFA, Xbox, and Electronic Arts congratulate the 128 finalists who have now secured their place in the FIWC Grand Final.
Since October, fans of real and virtual football from around the world have competed in off and online qualifying events for their chance to take on the ultimate challenge of becoming the FIFA Interactive World Player 2006 and to receive a cash prize of USD $20,000. The 128 finalists will get an all expenses paid trip to compete at the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final at the Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam on Saturday, 9 December (16:00 CET). The winner of the Grand Final will also be invited to attend the FIFA World Player Gala 2006 at the Opera House in Zurich on Monday, 18 December.
A truly global event, the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2006 saw 38 qualifying events take place around the world, while the Xbox Live part of the tournament gave gamers from 25 countries the opportunity to compete for their place in the final. Overall, close to 30,000 matches were played during the online and offline qualifiers with contestants scoring a total of 65,000 goals.
This year will see the biggest and most exciting Grand Final in the history of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, as the 68 winners and finalists from the off line qualifiers and 44 winners and runners up from the Xbox Live tournament will meet the 16 finalists from the two previous FIWC tournaments. All 128 virtual football virtuosos will compete at the Grand Final using EA SPORTS FIFA 07 on the Xbox 360 system, enjoying the most authentic virtual football experience to date.
The FIWC Grand Final 2006 will be a true carnival of football, combining the very best real and virtual sporting action with appearances by celebrity footballers and musical background provided by international bands and DJs. Spectators of the competition will be able to follow all the final matches, show off their own skills in the live interactive football zone and celebrate with the winner at the event after-party. Music will be supplied by the globe trotting headline act The Infadels and local Dutch heroes The Sheer - both great fans of the game. Visitors can apply for free tickets at www.FIFA.com.
"The FIFA Interactive World Cup is an excellent platform to bring gamers into football. It is a fantastic competition and I think it has a great future. Over the three years since its inauguration, I have witnessed incredible virtual football action which promises thrilling games and excitement at the upcoming Grand Final in Amsterdam. The interactive football gaming is a spectacular and exhilarating variation of our sport. The pressure people put on themselves, the healthy rivalry between the players and their passion for the game is impressive. I am really looking forward to seeing the Grand Final," said FIFA Executive Member Chuck Blazer, who will represent the FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter at the Grand Final.
"Congratulations to each of the FIFA Interactive World Cup finalists who've really proved they have what it takes to compete for the title of FIFA Interactive World Player of the Year," said Clive Downie, Vice President Sports Marketing, EA. "At EA SPORTS we've witnessed some incredible virtual football action throughout the qualifying stages and we can't wait to watch the magic unfold during the Grand Final in Amsterdam on the 9th of December. It's now down to pure skill on the FIFA 07 game. The winner will earn true global bragging rights as FIFA Interactive World Player 2006 and will walk away with an additional prize of $20,000 in cash."
"We're really excited to be part of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2006 -- exclusively bringing next generation, high-definition football gaming action to players across the globe with FIFA 07. The gaming tournament on Xbox Live was a great success allowing our 4 million members worldwide the chance be part of this great competition and take on their friends. It will be great to see the finals played out on the screen in Amsterdam, just like being at a big match for real," said Richard Teversham, Head of Marketing, Xbox Europe.
FIFA 07 on the Xbox 360 heralds the start of the next generation of football gaming with the dynamic new EA SPORTS engine and all-new gameplay. Moving away from the traditional animation-based game engine, raw physics and data now drive the action, creating true-to-life movement, an unprecedented level of responsiveness and the most advanced visuals seen in a football game. For the first time ever the ball is alive with its own independent physics, resulting in truly unpredictable gameplay. Now any type of pass or shot is possible and goals feel natural and unique. The new engine creates a wealth of data, including never-before-experienced real-time player analysis that gives you the power to make real tactical decisions when managing your players. Partner the new engine with the most innovative and extensive online feature sets to date, with 4 v 4 and streaming real world news, FIFA 07 truly blurs the lines between videogames and reality.
Photos from qualifier events are already available at www.FIFA.com from the final will also be posted to the site.