New York City has become one of the most vibrant soccer cities in USA in recent years. With New York City FC officially starting life in Major League Soccer last season, the city finally has a fierce rivalry, as New York Red Bulls (originally the New York/New Jersey MetroStars) and NYCFC now play in the Hudson River derby, a game every MLS fan marks in their calendar. And that’s not all. Over to the east are North American Soccer League champions New York Cosmos, who have a proud, winning tradition of their own.
For the next two days, the sprawling metropolis will also be the global capital of virtual football, with the world’s leading 32 EA SPORTS™ FIFA 16 players coming together to contest the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2016 Grand Final. Hailing from Burkina Faso, England, France and the USA, among other countries, the finalists were greeted with clear blue skies and bright sunshine when they arrived in New York.
After enjoying some sightseeing, the gamers arrived at Row NYC Hotel for the first big event of the competition. The draw revealed the fate of the competitors and gave them the chance to plot their potential route to the final. Presenting the draw were Kay Murray, who had help from a very special guest in NYCFC midfielder Frank Lampard. The former England star had the task of drawing the names of the finalists and revealing which groups they went into.
"It takes courage, desire and focus to become a champion," said Lampard. "The player that wins the FIFA Interactive World Cup in New York will be the one that harnesses this the most."
The first round of the competition comprises eight groups of four players, with the top two in each section advancing to the Round of 16. A notable absence from the 32 players at the draw was 2015 champion Abdulaziz Alshehri. The Saudi Arabian’s last-minute withdrawal from the tournament, due to his inability to travel to New York, means that one of the 32 players in New York will become the new FIFA Interactive World Cup champion.
Live streaming of the Grand Final
You can follow the FIWC 2016 Grand Final live from the Skylark (Day 1, Monday 21 March) and Harlem’s Apollo Theater (Day 2, Tuesday 22 March). Monday’s matches will be shown between 14.00-19.00 EST* (19.00-00.00 CET), while Tuesday’s games will take place between 18.00-20.00 EST (23.00-01.00 CET).
Day 1 of the competition will feature the group phase and the quarter-finals, while the Final Showdown will take place on Day 2. The FIWC 2016 champion - the first to ever be decided on both of the world’s leading gaming consoles - will receive USD 20,000 and a trip to the next FIFA Ballon d’Or. Follow all the action from the Grand Final with FIFATV on YouTube, The FIFA Interactive World Cup on Facebook and @FIWC on Twitter.
*Eastern Standard Time
**The live stream of the Final Showdown will be unavailable in the following countries: England, Guam, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Scotland, USA, U.S. Virgin Islands and Wales. American viewers can watch an exclusive broadcast of the Final Showdown live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox digital channels. Viewers in the United Kingdom and Ireland can follow the Final Showdown live on Sky.