Julien first in France
© FIFA.com

After a busy weekend of FIFA Interactive World Cup 2010 qualification, Julien Dassonville became the fifteenth player to confirm his place at the Grand Final, to be held in Barcelona on 1 May, after winning the French Live Qualifier Event.

Whilst Mathias Funder was busy beating the best virtual footballers Eastern Europe and Scandinavia had to offer at the Denmark Live Qualifier Event held this weekend, hundreds of virtual players in France were embroiled in their own FIWC10 battle. The French Live Qualifier, held at Galaxy Foot in Paris today, was the culmination of a month-long qualification period that has seen over 1,500 players take part. At the start of today, 32 elite French gamers were left standing, PlayStation®3 remotes at the ready as they set their sights on the national title. Before battling for the prestigious Grand Final spot, the players were given some words of encouragement by surprise guest and famous French rapper Seyfu.

I might not be the favourite going into the Grand Final but I think I have an outside chance of winning.
New French FIWC National Champion Julien Dassonville

Galaxy foot always a feast
Galaxy Foot is France’s biggest football exhibition, showcasing absolutely everything and anything to do with football. From mini-astroturf pitches to a full-size beach soccer pitch, there were plenty of opportunities for football fans of all ages to enjoy some real-life football activities. There was also an extra-special addition to Galaxy Foot this year as the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour presented by Coca-Cola pulled into Paris. Visitors to Galaxy Foot were given the chance to have their photo taken with the official FIFA World Cup™ Trophy. The trophy is a familiar treasure for the French nation who watched their team win the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home soil. Les Bleus fans will be hoping France can once again lay claim to the trophy in South Africa this summer.

The finale
Dassonville impressed throughout the tournament; in a twist of fate the 20-year-old only qualified for the final 32 during Friday’s qualifying round held at Galaxy Foot. Julien came up against Aissam Lyamani in the final match of the French Live Event and was clearly in a league of his own as he raced to a 6-2 win. As Dassonville celebrated his massive victory with his friends, he reflected on his chances at the Grand Final. "I might not be the favourite going into the Grand Final but I think I have an outside chance of winning," he said.

Bruce sizes up the competition
One FIWC player who was able to enjoy all that was on offer at Galaxy Foot without any of the qualification pressure was FIWC09 Champion Bruce Grannec. Bruce automatically qualifies for the FIWC10 Grand Final and will attempt to make virtual football history by being the first FIWC champion to successfully retain his title. Bruce was ever present throughout the weekend in Paris enjoying his current status as the best virtual footballer in the world. The reigning champion was clearly eager to see which of his fellow countrymen would be joining him at this year’s Grand Final and he followed the games carefully.

Germany’s Baris Bahcetepe won the right to participate from the quarter-finals stage at the French Live Event by virtue of winning the German Feeder Event held a few weeks ago. The 19-year-old watched the group stages intently as he prepared to face the competition. Ahead of his quarter final Baris was optimistic. "There are a lot of good players here who I know from playing online but I have already done the hard work through the German qualifiers and only have to win three games today to qualify for the Grand Final so I have a good chance," he said. Although Bahcetepe impressed the French crowd with his 4-3 victory in his quarter final, he faced Julien in the semi-final. The local boy was too strong for the German visitor and Julien squeezed his way to victory in a tight 4-3 thriller.

FIWC10 live events
Next weekend the FIFA Interactive World Cup will hold the first ever live qualifier in Japan, whilst the Italy event is taking place in Milan that same weekend. Then on 22 March FIWC heads to England. The FIWC10 Live Events wrap up in April with events in Brazil and Australia.