On May 1, the world’s best 32 virtual football players will line up at Barcelona’s Port Olimpic as the FIFA Interactive World Cup Grand Final returns to the same spot for the second year in succession. They will be competing to be crowned the FIFA Interactive World Champion 2010, which also comes with a prize of USD 20,000 and an invitation to the FIFA World Player Gala 2010, where they will mingle with the world’s best footballers. After seven months of qualification, FIFA today announced the 32 grand finalists from 22 countries.

The FIWC10 Grand Final will complete the sixth edition of the world’s largest football gaming tournament after a gruelling season that has witnessed players from around the world take to EA SPORTS™ FIFA10 virtual pitch on PlayStation®3 at ten live qualifier events in countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Italy and Japan since November. This year has seen a continued growth in the number of contestants, with over 775,000 players competing in both the live qualifier events and the online qualification that has run from October 2009 through to March 2010.

“I am delighted to see the huge interest of fans from all over the world in this event, which keeps growing every year,” said FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer, who will attend the Grand Final in Barcelona. “I enjoyed last year’s final very much and I am looking forward to watching the best interactive players in the world face off once again to be crowned the FIFA Interactive world champion of 2010,” he added.

I enjoyed last year’s final very much and I am looking forward to watching the best interactive players in the world face off once again to be crowned the FIFA Interactive world champion of 2010.

FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer

This year’s Grand Final, which offers free admission to the general public, will take place alongside the beach in Barcelona and promises to be the biggest yet, with a full entertainment show to accompany the world-class display of virtual football. Former Dutch international Patrick Kluivert will attend and show off his virtual skills by taking part in an exhibition match on the main stage.

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.

Spain’s beach soccer star Ramiro Amarelle will be joined by a couple of his fellow countrymen in the beach soccer area, where attendees will be able to take part in mini tournaments run throughout the day. Completing the day’s entertainment extravaganza, Groove Armada’s Andy Cato will play a full DJ set at which spectators can join the newly crowned FIFA Interactive world champion in celebrating victory.

“With over 775,000 participants, we have set a new record for the FIWC 2010, which will culminate in the exciting Grand Final in Barcelona. This amazing number of gamers highlights the importance of the FIWC for football fans worldwide,” said Jon Rosenblatt, Senior Marketing Director Europe EA SPORTS. “FIFA 10 has proven to be the best football video game ever and it is great to see so many players from all over the world competing against each other on the PlayStation Network during the live qualifiers to claim the FIWC 2010 title on May 1.”

“The FIFA Interactive World Cup continues to go from strength to strength, growing each year at an enormous rate,” said Darren Carter, Vice President, Consumer Marketing, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “To have had over 775,000 participants clearly shows the passion of both the EA SPORTS FIFA 10 and PlayStation fans. These guys are a fantastic example of dedication and skill, something that will be in abundance at this season’s FIFA Interactive World Cup. I have no doubt that it is going to be the best final yet and we look forward to welcoming everyone to Barcelona in May.”