After three incredible days in Dubai, a new FIFA Interactive World Cup Champion has been crowned: Alfonso Ramos from Spain.
The FIFA Interactive World Cup 2012 has been characterized by a number of record-breaking moments. Over 1.3 million registered players tried to win a place in Dubai, making this edition the most successful to date. For the first time, FIFA.com streamed the three-day event live on several platforms, giving fans all over the world the ability to watch matches all the way from the group stage to the finale.
It was also the first time the Final match of the FIWC was contested between two former champions - 2009 winner Bruce Grannec and 2008 winner Alfonso Ramos. And finally, the record to break them all: Alfonso’s victory was the first time in the history of the FIFA Interactive World Cup that a former champion has won the title for a second-time - something every single winner has wanted so desperately to do.
“When I won in 2008 I think there were maybe 100,000 players and now it’s over a million. It’s become so very hard.“ said Ramos.
Ramos' road to the finalThe Spaniard was not an out-right favourite when the tournament kicked off, and he suffered a big 3-1 defeat to Germany’s Kei Wollin in his first group-stage match. It took an 85th-minute goal by Ramos against countryman David Arboli to secure him a place in the quarter-finals. Ramos called the strike, “A finesse shot...a beautiful goal to send me through.”
In his quarter-final, Alfonso started to show his true pedigree, edging out Bulgaria’s Klasnic Ivanov - a favourite on his FIWC debut – by a 2-1 scoreline. The Kei Wollin-Ramos semi-final was a repeat of the group match, but this time Ramos co-coordinated a tactically proficient 2-0 win. “I’m happy, but I still have three exams this week, so the true party will be back home with my friends on Saturday,” said the down-to-earth Spaniard after winning. German semi-finalist Wollin did not go home empty handed, however, winning the third place playoff against Guiseppe Guastella.
Penalties decide winnerThe FIWC12 finale was one of the most evenly balanced matches ever played at the tournament. Regulation time ended in a goalless deadlock. Extra-time was just as tough, with Ramos missing a very late chance to potentially secure the win and with it USD20,000 in prize money and a trip to the next FIFA ballon d'Or Gala. Ultimately, the title was decided on penalties. Every shot, every goal, every save had the crowd and commentators gasping and shrieking. “I usually play with the mentality of my opponent when it comes to penalties,” said Ramos.
Live from Dubai
TV Personality Charlotte Jackson hosted the live streaming event with the help of a commentary team that included FIWC10 champion Nenad Stojkovic and special guests and former FIFA World Cup™ winners' Christian Karembeu and Luca Toni. "When I was playing I also had this kind of pressure, but he has proved he is more than capable of handling it," said Luca Toni of Ramos’s victory.
The various stages of the tournament were held in incredible locations. From Jumeirah beach to the opulent interior of the iconic Burj Al Arab, the heights of the Burj Khalifa - the tallest man-made structure in the world - and finally on Day three, the Jambase venue at the Jumeirah resort.
“We’ve had this unique privilege,” said Karembeu. The 1998 World Champion attended the event, even finding time to provide commentary on matches and play a six-a-side match with a team of Grand Finalist’s against a Luca Toni selection of Grand Finalists. Karembeu was impressed at how the players pay attention to very aspect of their game. “This is football,” he said. “They know each and every player and their characteristics and they showed the ability to move in proper space and to drive towards the goal.”
Tears were welling up in Alfonso’s eyes, the Spaniard unable to control the elation of winning the interactive world title and making history. An always-composed Grannec, hiding the disappointment of losing on penalties, congratulated Alfonso, calling him a true champion.