The FIFA Interactive World Cup: a sedentary soccer player’s dream

Over the weekend, we reported on a 2K Sports-Pontiac collaboration, the Pontiac Virtual NCAA Final Four Tournament. Here’s another step in our continued efforts to provide you, our loyal readers, with opportunities to prove your gaming prowess. This time around, though, the sport in question has a decidedly more worldwide flair, so you’re really going to have to be at the top of your game to compete.

Sony, EA Sports, and FIFA have teamed up to bring you the fourth annual FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC). This global gaming gauntlet takes place on the “football pitch” (see, I can do Britspeak) of EA Sports’ FIFA 08, as well as the Sony-owned cyberspace that is the PlayStation Network. This Saturday, March 1st, the sole North American live qualifier in this year’s FIWC will take place from 2 PM to 8 PM PST at the GameStop located at 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Universal City, CA.

The day’s tournament bracket comprises 128 spots. 50 were made available through online pre-registration that began on Februrary 18th (it’s now closed), while the remaining 78 will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. In other words, if you feel like you have a shot at winning, you better also feel like waiting outside that GameStop for quite a while. Strangely enough, this tourney seems to be the “bizarro” version of the aforementioned College Hoops 2K8 contest, which is nationwide and restricted to Xbox Live users.

In an extra-special-super-happy-fun-time bonus, Jorge Flores and Anthony Hamilton of the MLS team Chivas USA will appear from 4:30 to 6 PM to “greet competitors and spectators”. So in addition to some lawn chairs and a picnic basket, you might want to bring some stuff-to-be-signed. For more information on the FIWC, head on over to its official Web site, and tell us: will any of you L.A.-area Dtoiders be signing up to kick some ass?

FIFA, EA SPORTS AND PLAYSTATION HEAT UP SEARCH FOR BEST VIRTUAL SOCCER PLAYER IN NORTH AMERICA IN FIFA INTERACTIVE WORLD CUP 2008

Chivas USA players Jorge Flores and Anthony Hamilton to greet competitors in Los Angeles

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – February 27, 2008 – The search for the best virtual soccer player in North America will take place this week as the only live qualifying event of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2008 (FIWC) hits Los Angeles on Saturday, March 1. The FIWC will showcase 128 of the best interactive soccer players in North America competing for one of 32 berths in the FIWC Grand Final on May 24 in Berlin.

The only FIWC 08 Qualifier Event in North America will take place on Saturday, March 1 from 2:00-8:00 pm at GameStop, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Universal City, CA. Up to 50 competitors can pre-register for the event by logging on to www.easports.com/FIWC while the remaining 78 spots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the event.* “The FIFA Interactive World Cup is where true world champions are crowned,” said Brazilian football icon Ronaldinho. “I am sure the competitors will feel the same excitement as we players do when entering the field at a FIFA World Cup. So don’t miss the action leading up to the Grand Final in Berlin, on the 24th of May.”

Complete official rules can be found at https://fifa08.ea.com/us/.

Two players from Chivas USA of the MLS, Jorge Flores and Anthony Hamilton, will be on hand at the qualifier event in Los Angeles to greet competitors and spectators between 4:30-6:00 pm. Flores, who is also captain of the USA Under-20 national team, was the winner of Sueño MLS, a nationally-televised player search by Chivas USA, who was invited to join the team’s Under-19 squad and later was signed to a professional contract and added to the full squad.

The 32 finalists will be made up of the winners from the 20 live qualifiers which are taking place around the world and will be joined by 12 players who have qualified through the online qualification via PlayStation®Network. Players who cannot make it to the live event in Los Angeles have the chance to secure one of the spots in the Grand Final in the online qualification tournament for which they can register at www.FIFA.com/FIWC.

On May 24 the 32 finalists will travel to Berlin from the four corners of the world to compete at the Sony Centre for the ultimate title of FIFA Interactive World Player 2008. The winner will receive an invitation to the FIFA World Player Gala 2008 and a cash prize of $20,000. The first players to have qualified for the Grand Final are Christian LÅ™nhart from Denmark, Roland Császár from Hungary, reigning FIFA Interactive World Player Andries Smit from the Netherlands, Gwan-Hyeong Kim from Korea and Sachith Reddy from India.

The FIFA Interactive World Cup is the world’s only officially FIFA sanctioned global soccer gaming competition with presenting partners EA and PlayStation. Participants from around the world compete against each other on EA SPORTS FIFA Soccer 08 on PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™).

* Eligibility restrictions apply.

Samit Sarkar