FIFA, Electronic Arts and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe this month announced the new season of the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), the world’s only official FIFA global football gaming competition. The FIWC is a season-long tournament mirroring the real world of football in which competitors from all around the world can participate playing EA Sports FIFA 09 on the PlayStation 3.

New Zealand will be the first country in the world to kick off FIWC 09, with the National Qualifier taking place at this year’s Armageddon Expo at the Aotea Centre in Auckland from the 25th to the 27th of October. Simply turn up to register to compete on 25th and 26th and be in with the chance of reaching the National Final in the central Armageddon hall on the 27th.

The Kiwi Champion will win an all expenses paid trip to the Grand Final where the best 32 players from across the globe will compete to be crowned FIFA Interactive World Player of the Year. The World Champion will be rewarded with an invitation to the FIFA World Player Gala along with a USD $20,000 cash prize and an all new KIA ‘Soul’. For the first time in the tournament’s history, the runner up will receive USD $5,000, while the player coming third will be awarded USD $1,000.

This year marks the fifth FIWC season, which will kick off with the launch of FIFA 09 on 3 October. Players will be able to compete at one of 19 FIWC 09 live qualifier events across the globe, kicking off in New Zealand on 25 October and covering countries all over the world, including Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Italy, South Africa and the US. Players will also be able to compete for the 13 places available in the final for the best online players via PSN.

Hopeful competitors can get a head start and practise their skills for the tournament from today by playing the official FIFA 09 PS3 demo available for download worldwide now via PSN. Registration for participating in the online leg of the FIWC 09 tournament will take place directly inside the retail version of FIFA 09 on the PS3 in early October.

During last year’s tournament, players spanning the globe from New Zealand to South Africa, Brazil to Korea to the USA and Italy dribbled and scored their way through the tournament’s 20 live qualifiers, while over 25,000 players competed in the online leg. In the end, it was Alfonso Ramos from Spain who emerged victoriously from the Grand Final in Berlin. He will join his real life football heroes on the 12th of January 2009 at the FIFA World Player Gala in Zurich to accept his trophy.

Details about the live qualifier events near you will be made available over the coming weeks at the official site, so check in regularly to keep your fingers on the pulse of the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009.