FIFA today (12 September) joined Presenting Partners EA SPORTS™ and PlayStation® in unveiling the new season's calendar for the fifth FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC). This official FIFA competition provides contestants from around the globe with an opportunity to experience the unique atmosphere of being a player in a FIFA World Cup™. From October 2008 to May 2009, thousands of players from all over the world will compete against each other in EA SPORTS™ FIFA 09 on PlayStation®3 for one of the 32 spots in the Grand Final in May 2009. Players can compete against each other at one of the 19 live qualifier events taking place around the world or via online qualification on the PlayStation®Network. The first live qualifier event for FIWC09 will take place from 25-27 October in Auckland, New Zealand. Players who are interested in participating will find all of the information on how to register as well as in-depth reports and stories from the tournament on the official website, the link to which can be found to the right of this story.

This year, it is even easier for players to compete in the world's largest football gaming tournament via in-game registration for the FIFA Interactive World Cup in EA SPORTS' FIFA 09 on the PlayStation®Network. The winner of the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final will not only become the FIFA Interactive World Player but will also receive an invitation to the FIFA World Player Gala, USD 20,000 and an all-new KIA Soul.

"The FIFA Interactive World Cup has established itself as a premier gaming tournament, and the only one under the FIFA banner. In the last few years, I have witnessed incredible virtual football action and we can also expect thrilling games and excitement at the upcoming interactive season. I am really looking forward to the kick-off of the fifth tournament, which gives everyone the unique chance to become a real FIFA World Cup™ champion," said FIFA Executive Member Chuck Blazer, himself an avid gamer.

The inauguration of this annual competition in 2004 marked a milestone in the pioneering history of FIFA. This groundbreaking initiative to enter the virtual arena was the first of its kind for an international sports body. Last year's FIWC08 tournament saw more than 25,000 players from 179 countries and all 6 confederations worldwide compete to be crowned the FIFA Interactive World Player. After a fiercely fought Grand Final, 19-year-old Alfonso Ramos from Spain was crowned the FIFA Interactive World Player 2008. After his victory, Ramos said it had been "the best day of my life".

"Over the last four years, the FIFA Interactive World Cup has become the gaming competition for football fans and gamers. It's the only tournament in which competitors can play as their football heroes and have their virtual skills recognised by FIFA, the real-life governing body of world football," said Matt Bilbey, Senior Director, Sports Marketing, EA. "With our partners at FIFA and PlayStation®, we can't wait for this year's season to kick off when FIFA 09 launches in early October. The development team has done an incredible job in making FIFA 09 even more authentic and fun to play, so make sure you get a taste of it now and start practising with the demo on the PlayStation®Network."

"This year is PlayStation's second season of being involved in the FIWC and we are very excited to see the tournament grow and evolve to establish itself as the biggest online football tournament in the world," said Darren Carter, VP for Brand and Consumer Marketing, SCEE. "This season, players will be able to truly understand the unique experience FIFA 09 on PLAYSTATION®3 and the PlayStation®Network offers and we look forward to seeing players from around the world go onto the PlayStation®Network and get practising immediately."