There’s no new FIFA game, so of course they’re hosting a World Cup in Rocket League instead

The end of EA’s decades-long FIFA deal in 2022 means there’s currently a FIFA-shaped hole in the world of video games that isn’t quite filled by EA’s not-FIFA replacement EA Sports FC 24 and is yet to measure up the efforts of whoever the footballing organisation gets to make the next officially licensed FIFA game. So, naturally, FIFA is looking to help plug that gap in the meantime by hosting a virtual World Cup in car-football game Rocket League.

The Rocket League World Cup will run later this year as part of FIFA’s wider ‘FIFAe’ effort to break into the world of esports, which their website tells me they’ve been attempting to do since a FIFA Interactive World Cup held in 2004. Nowadays that consists of online competitions played across EA Sports FC, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer successor eFootball and Rocket League, which already runs its Championship Series through the initiative.

The upcoming World Cup will see 16 nations face off in a global tournament, with each country able to put forward three players and one substitute as their representatives on the pitch. The participating nations will be selected through a combination of their player base – in other words, how many people play Rocket League – and based on the past performance of their fellow local players in Rocket League competitions. Those countries will also have the chance to run local-level tournaments to help find their nation’s top players.

“The FIFAe World Cup featuring Rocket League marks a new era for FIFAe, providing a groundbreaking platform for FIFA’s member associations to compete on one of the most relevant esports titles,” FIFA’s director of eFootball and gaming Christian Volk said in a statement that, despite their job title, really reads like someone who had never heard of Rocket League before someone burst into their office and pointed at a big number. Volk topped off that statement with one of the most teeth-grinding corporate taglines I’ve come across in a while: “This milestone partnership highlights our commitment to evolve our football esports ecosystem and continue to build the biggest stages for all communities to fame their game.”

Anyway, Rocket League remains a great game that’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to play, so I’m genuinely more interested in its esports tournaments than many games. If you reckon you’re good enough to represent your country in the upcoming World Cup, you can go sign up for qualification over on the FIFAe site.

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