First FIFA World Cup Winner Announced

With a pressure-packed, energetic crowd of football fans and gamers cheering him on, Matija Biljeskovic, 20, of Rockford, Illinois took the stage at the Jacob Javits Center and conquered the best football video gamers North America has to offer, earning him the New York Regional Championship of the inaugural FIFA Interactive World Cup.

Biljeskovic’s Arsenal team progressed through each round of the tournament with poise and determination, ultimately defeating Carlos Briseño, 16, of Guadalajara, Mexico in a thrilling overtime penalty shoot-out, 11-10, to secure his berth in the FIFA Interactive World Cup Finals this December in Zurich.

The FIFA Interactive World Cup is the world’s first-ever FIFA-sanctioned video game tournament, combining both on- and off-line football gaming action on EA’s FIFA Football 2005 on Xbox and Xbox Live(tm).

The New York event was the second of eight regional tournaments being held across six different continents between October and December. The FIFA Interactive World Cup Finals will be held in FIFA House in Zurich on December 19, 2004. The following day, at the FIFA World Player Gala in the Opera House of Zurich, the best virtual footballer in the World will be honored onstage and presented with the FIFA Interactive World Player trophy alongside the best female and male footballer in the World – the FIFA World Players 2004.

The best football gamers in North America poured in from Canada, Mexico and the United States to test their skills in knockout matches of FIFA Football 2005 in hopes of winning the coveted trip to Zurich. In the end, though, there was only one, Matija Biljeskovic, who prevailed as North American Regional Champion and will ready his passport for a transcontinental trip this December.

"This match was as thrilling as a real FIFA World Cup match with real national teams," said Biljeskovic. "The experience as a whole exceeded all my expectations. I’m honored to represent North America in the FIFA Interactive World Cup Finals in Zurich.

With the conclusion of the tournament’s first two events in Johannesburg, South Africa and New York respectively, the FIFA Interactive World Cup competition moves to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next week, and will continue making stops in London, Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Seoul.

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