Chile Wins World Cup of Virtual Soccer

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In a dramatic match, Chile beat Switzerland 1-0 to become the first national team from outside Europe to win the Hattrick World Cup. The trophy is the most prestigious prize of this online football manager game, which attracts more than 600 000 active users from all over the world. "We are very happy in Chile for this win!" says Enrique Espina, the 25 year old coach of the Chilean national team. "It was a very tough game, we played against a very strong squad and a very good manager."

Hattrick is the original football manager game

Chile are the new champions of virtual football

What makes Hattrick special is our community, we are translated into almost every major language which means that users from all over the world really can feel part of the game.

The setting may have been virtual, but the drama was very real as Chile took on Switzerland in the 17th Hattrick World Cup on the eve of Sunday, February 19. The match was played in front of 120 000 simulated spectators at the National Soca Stadium in Trinidad & Tobago, but huddled around computer screens all around the world were thousands of real fans who had gathered to cheer their teams on. As the final whistle blew, a header after 79 minutes by Gonzalo Inostroza made the difference and Chile could emerge as the first non-european team to ever win the Hattrick World Cup.

"The Chilean Community has always been enthusiastic about the national team competitions and our users follow the matches with a lot of emotion," says Enrique Espina, the national coach, a 25 year old from Santiago de Chile.

The national teams of Hattrick.org (http://www.hattrick.org), a free online football manager game, are led by coaches who, like Mr Espina, have been voted into office by their local users, in a process much more democratic and transparent than what real life football associations can offer. Once in office, they select and coach teams of virtual players that have been groomed and trained by the human managers of their country.

"At the beginning of my process, we didn't start very well and the community was doubting our work," says Mr Espina. "But little by little the community changed their view, and in the end we had great support from them and we could do something historical for Hattrick Chile."

Reaching the World Cup final is a long process, taking teams through several qualifier group stages before reaching the finals. Hattrick has 124 national leagues, hosting 670 000 active managers, who enjoy a football management simulation game that has been translated into more than 50 languages.

"This game is a phenomenon, it started already in 1997 and is still the most popular football management game online," says founder Johan Gustafsson. He continues:

"What makes Hattrick special is our community, we are translated into almost every major language which means that users from all over the world really can feel part of the game. Every user primarily manages their own team and competes with that in their national league, but the best virtual players from these teams are then picked up by the national team so that these local communities can compete together against users from other countries."

The 17th Hattrick World Cup was a very close affair. Chile had reached the final after defeating six-fold champion Sweden 2-1, scoring the winning goal in extra time. Switzerland also needed extra time to knock out Finland out of the semi finals, also winning by 2-1.

For the Hattrick community of Chile winning the World Cup will be a source of great national pride, and a reason to celebrate.

"We are very, very happy here in Chile now!" confirms Enrique Espina. "The community is already organizing a lot of meetings in every city, to celebrate this gold medal."

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Johan Gustafsson

Jacob Gustafsson
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