Virtual football champion to be crowned in Barcelona
© FIFA.com

On 2 May, the world's best 32 virtual football players will line up at Port Olympic, Barcelona, Spain in an attempt to be crowned the FIFA Interactive World Champion 2009. In addition to this, the winner will also receive USD 20,000, an all new KIA "Soul" and an invitation to the FIFA World Player Gala in 2010. For the first time the event's history, the runner up will receive USD 5,000 whilst third place will receive USD 1,000. After seven months of qualification, FIFA today announced the 32 grand finalists from 24 countries.

The FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009 Grand Final will complete the fifth edition of the world's largest football gaming tournament after a season that has witnessed players from around the world take to the EA SPORTS™ FIFA09 virtual pitch on PLAYSTATION®3 at 19 live qualifier events in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Italy and Poland since October. More players than ever have competed in the online qualification for this year's tournament, with over 500,000 players vying to qualify for the Grand Final.

"With more than half a million online participants, the FIFA Interactive World Cup has set new records and I am really impressed with how fast this tournament is growing," says FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer, who will attend the Grand Final in Barcelona. "I am a passionate gamer myself and I am really looking forward to learning some new tricks from the world's best virtual football players! I know they practice very hard and, as for every other FIFA tournament, players will have to perform at their best in order to be crowned FIFA Interactive World Champion 2009."

The Grand Final, which will take place next to the beach in Barcelona and be accompanied by an entertainment show, will be a memorable football party for all those who attend. The public will be able to take part in mini beach soccer tournaments in the beach soccer area and learn tricks from FIFA Beach Soccer World Player 2008, Ramiro Amarelle, as well as being entertained throughout the day by exclusive freestyle performances from Komball, DJs and the beach soccer cheerleaders. The public will also be able to enjoy the latest EA SPORTS gaming titles in the Gaming Lounge while also experiencing PlayStation's latest next-generation entertainment products in the Entertainment Lounge. The interactive areas open at 11.00, while the gaming tournament kicks off at 13.15. The final is scheduled to begin at 18.45 (TBC). Admission to the Grand Final is free to the public.

"The FIWC 2009 Grand Final in Barcelona promises to provide a fitting finale to this year's record-breaking competition in one of the world's greatest footballing cities," said Matt Bilbey, Vice-President International Marketing, EA SPORTS. "We believe that FIFA 09 is our best ever football title and it is fantastic to see such an overwhelming number of gamers log on to the PlayStation Network and come to qualifying events all over the world in order to play the game and stake their claim to the trophy."

"This year's final in Barcelona promises to be a fantastic event, with great football, top-class entertainment and a perfect venue," said Darren Carter, Vice-President, Consumer Marketing, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. "This year has shown what can happen when you take a great game like EA SPORTS FIFA 09 and combine it with the most powerful and complete entertainment system available in the market, PLAYSTATION 3. This season's FIFA Interactive World Cup has most certainly been the best yet and we look forward to welcoming the finalists to Barcelona in May."

For the list of participants and to find out more about the FIFA Interactive World Cup, please click on the news story on the right hand side.