Footballing passion in a virtual universe
© FIFA.com

“If I could, I’d have [Stephan] El Shaarawy, [Ezequiel] Lavezzi and [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic in my team.” “I was playing with Paris Saint-Germain and I signed [Wayne] Rooney from Manchester United. He’s not that expensive.” “Brazil have got a good defence, a good midfield and a good attack too. That’s why I like to play with A Seleção.” “There’s nobody on the planet better than [Lionel] Messi. You can be sure of that!”

Every day and in every corner of the globe young people are involved in animated conversations about football. The particular snippets above were heard in Rio de Janeiro, among a group of friends made up of Lucas Brandao, Antonio Fannucchi, Luca Faustino and Joao Pedro Kusler.

Though all just ten years of age, and in the same year at a school in Rio’s Zona Sul, they discussed these and other footballing issues with an authority that comes from two main sources: being both football-mad and passionate performers at EA SPORTS™ title FIFA 13 on the Sony PlayStation®3.

Their enjoyment of the virtual game and the fact the world’s eight finest national teams have been battling it out in Brazil in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 gave them the push they needed to set up their own edition of the Festival of Champions. “We put together our own tournament. I played as Brazil and I won,” said a visibly proud Brandao, with Kusler quipping back “But he’s hooked! You just can’t beat him, even when you play with Spain.”

Aside from setting limits to playing time, to ensure the children’s dedication to virtual excellence does not go too far, Raquel Almeida – Brandao’s mother and an executive responsible for digital projects – takes a positive view on what the game has to offer.

“This game helps widen the children’s perspective. The management mode that the game offers also gives them geographical and strategical awareness,” said Almeida, referring to the mode in FIFA 13 that allows users to manage teams, including buying and selling players. “It all helps them to develop skills, but there needs to be limits.”

Now the FIFA Confederations Cup is coming to an end, Brandao is beginning to think along similar lines to the rest of Brazil: with one eye already looking ahead to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, as well as the virtual version he will create with his friends.

2.5 million take part in FIFA Interactive World Cup

Avid players of FIFA 13, just like those young Cariocas, millions of people around the globe give their all on an annual basis in a bid to be crowned champions of the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) – the world’s biggest virtual football competition.

Some 2.5 million players signed up for the 2013 edition, which was eventually won by Frenchman Bruce Grannec, the 2009 champion. Grannec’s efforts earned him 20,000 US Dollars in prize money, as well as the honour of taking to the stage at the next FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, in January 2014.

In order to qualify for the FIWC, six online qualification seasons are played via the PlayStation® Network. The top two finishers from each of the six seasons qualify for the Grand Final.

Click here to find out how you can take part in the FIFA Interactive World Cup.