The virtual football season is heating up as gamers and football fans around the world are getting ready for the next stage of the FIFA Interactive World Cup.

Since the launch of FIFA 08 last month, over 10,000 players from 25 countries and five continents have started battling for top position on the leader board in the online part of the competition via PlayStation Network. This month, the first live qualifying events have kicked off in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Hungary and will move on to Korea, Portugal and a total of over 20 locations across the world over the next five months in search for the world’s best interactive footballer.

“The FIFA Interactive World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for all football fans to show off their skills and passion for the sport with FIFA 08,” says playing great Ronaldinho. “It is a great tournament in which you have to train and work hard to succeed – just like in real football, so I invite all fans to register and enjoy this party of interactive football.”

On the 24th of May 2008, the 32 finalists will travel to Berlin 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 US$20,000. The first players to have qualified for the Grand Final are 15 year old Christian Lønhart from Bagsværd in Copenhagen and Roland Császár (17) from Budapest. The Dutch qualifying event was won by last year’s FIFA Interactive World Cup winner Andries Smit (18) from The Hague.

Players who think they have what it takes to become one of the 32 finalists can register for the online qualification modus or find out about a qualifying event near them at www.fifa.com/fiwc.

The FIFA Interactive World Cup is the world’s only officially FIFA sanctioned global football gaming competition with presenting partners EA and PlayStation. Participants from around the world compete with EA’s FIFA 08 on PS3. This year, players can participate at one of more than 20 physical FIWC 08 Qualifier Events across the globe or online via the PlayStation Network in over 25 countries.

For more information, visit fifa.com/interactiveworldcup.