FIFA has the pleasure to announce the launch of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, in a further step to strengthen its ties with the ever-growing community of video gamers worldwide. The officially sanctioned competition will enable fans to show off their gaming skills as well as their passion for football. In co-operation with Electronic Arts (EA) and Xbox, FIFA will stage a series of tournaments of on- and off line football action, centring around EA’s FIFA game and played on Xbox and Xbox® Live™. This groundbreaking project will enable FIFA to acknowledge the extraordinary and diverse spread of football, including the virtual world where it has made huge strides in recent years. Sports games have become one of the two most popular genres in the interactive entertainment industry with over 100 million players of all ages worldwide.

The inaugural edition of the FIFA Interactive World Cup, consisting of qualifying rounds and a final tournament, will be held in 2004. The qualifying rounds will take place across all continents between October and December of this year. The winners of the qualifying rounds will then be invited to the final tournament in Zurich to compete for the award of the FIFA Interactive World Player 2004. The winner will receive his or her trophy from the FIFA President in person during the FIFA World Player Gala.

“This innovative project concept will enable us to exploit further opportunities to promote and develop the game of football at all levels worldwide. The FIFA Interactive World Cup will be launched just as FIFA steps into the second century of its existence and will give fans an additional reason to love football, said FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi. “The FIFA Interactive World Cup will herald a new tradition of football games and test football players’ virtual abilities in a completely new way. We are proud to pay tribute to a completely new category of football player at the next FIFA World Player Gala.”

FIFA World Cup™ Licensees Electronic Arts and Xbox have teamed up to support FIFA in the realization of the FIFA Interactive World Cup. Electronic Arts has a strong association with the game of football, having developed the very successful range of the FIFA games launched in 1993 and currently in its 10th edition with “FIFA 2004”.  Xbox is recognised as the online gaming console leader.