Cruz enjoys magical moment
© FIFA.com

On Thursday 9 June, in front of a packed crowd at Los Angeles’s Mayan Theatre, Francisco Cruz from Portugal was crowned the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2011 champion.

The 16-year-old from the Portuguese city of Trofa described his victory as “magical”. Cruz capped off his undefeated run at the Grand Final by beating Colombia's Javier Munoz 4-1 in the tournament showpiece. Francisco received his gleaming trophy in front of a jubilant crowd, bringing to an end an unforgettable three days for the 24 Grand Finalists. The 24 finalists, who qualified via six online seasons and 10 live qualification events held all over the world, were flown to L.A. and treated to an entertainment extravaganza thanks to FIFA and event partners EA SPORTS™ and Sony PlayStation®.

The finalists arrived at the Mayan fresh from a yacht trip in the Marina del Rey where they had the exclusive chance to test EA SPORTS™ FIFA 12 long before the title hits the shelves in autumn. Back on land, the finalists were whisked off to E3. Once inside the world’s biggest gaming conference, they had the opportunity to give feedback to EA game developer David Rutter.

I had a long career in football but I’ve never seen some of the moves that the guys were pulling off today.
USA soccer legend Eric Wynalda

Glamour at the Mayan
Upon their arrival at the theatre the finalists were met by an array of famous names from the US entertainment circuit. Moderator Frank Nicotero was joined on stage by former US Soccer legend Eric Wynalda as well as global music sensations Far East Movement who entered the stage to the sounds of their US hit single “Like a G6”.

Down to business
In the first semi-final, Cruz comfortably defeated Australian Mark Azzi 2-0. Meanwhile, the second semi-final was a much tighter contest with Colombian Javier Munoz defeating England’s Adam Winster 2-1. Mark Azzi recovered from the disappointment of defeat in his third-place playoff match with Adam. Azzi scored a late goal to win 1-0, securing third place and a cash prize of $1000.

“It was amazing to see the skills that these guys showed in the games today,” said Eric Wynalda. “I had a long career in football but I’ve never seen some of the moves that the guys were pulling off today.”

“Last year in South Africa we saw Spain crowned world champions for the first time ever at the FIFA World Cup™. And now we have yet another first ever – a FIFA Interactive World Cup champion from Portugal,” remarked Ralph Straus.

“The dedication that all of the finalists have shown to reach this stage is remarkable,” said Strauss. “With almost 900,000 players taking part in this year’s FIFA Interactive World Cup we can see that the online gaming phenomenon is growing more and more. At FIFA we’re delighted to offer a platform to develop this side of the game along with event partners EA SPORTS and Sony PlayStation”

For his sublime victory at the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2011, Cruz will receive USD20,000 in prize money and a trip for two to next year's FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala.