Top 32 virtual football players lined up

For the world's premier virtual football players from all corners of the globe, the climax in the battle for the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2008 crown will get underway at the Sony Center in Berlin on 24 May 2008. After a busy qualifying season over seven months with live qualifier events in 20 countries around the world, and with over 25,000 players having competed in the online qualifiers, the 32 finalists are now known. Among them are defending champion Andries Smit from the Netherlands and Chris Bullard from the UK, champion in 2005 and the only previous winner to have reached three FIWC Grand Finals in a row in the tournament's four-year history.

The interactive football virtuosos will compete for the fourth FIFA Interactive World Cup title with EA SPORTS™ FIFA08 on PlayStation®3, enjoying the most authentic virtual football experience to date. Spectators will be in for a treat at the Grand Final with a combination of the very best real and virtual sporting action coupled with appearances by various football and music celebrities such as a performance by German hip-hop artist Das Bo. Anthony Baffoe, a former Ghanaian international and the first African player in the German Bundesliga, will not only be one of the many football guests that evening but also the co-host of the event. FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer will represent FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

"I am very impressed with the level of the participants. It is clear that they have been practicing hard, and like any football event, practice is one of the most important things. The FIFA Interactive World Cup is establishing itself as a premier gaming tournament, and the only one under the FIFA banner. I am also an avid gamer, and the gaming aspect of FIFA08 is unbelievable, it gives the impression of watching a live game," said Chuck Blazer, who added: "I think it is apt that there are now 32 competitors, which mirrors the number of teams in the FIFA World Cup. This tournament is a serious one, and like its big-brother tournament, the FIFA World Cup, it is not the prize money that encourages good performance, but the pride of being crowned a FIFA world champion."

The winner of the Grand Final will claim the brand-new FIFA Interactive World Cup Trophy along with USD 20,000 in prize money. In addition, the champion and a companion will be invited to attend the FIFA World Player Gala 2008 to see this year's top male and female footballers crowned.

"The Grand Final will be played in a real football ambience and it will be an opportunity to experience a live tournament with all the thrills that spectators and players feel with a FIFA World Cup title on the line. It bears all the fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping action of watching real football and in order to compete at this level, you need a tactical mind and a love for football," said Anthony Baffoe. For more information on the road to the Grand Final and in-depth profiles of all 32 participants, please visit www.FIFA.com/FIWC.