Israel and Finland to host World Cup of virtual soccer

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The privilege of hosting a World Cup is a great source of national pride - even when the tournament in question is to take place on the Internet. Since 2001 football manger game ( has arranged regular World Cups, in which all users of the game - which currently has more than 700 000 active team managers - has a chance to influence the outcome. This year, the honor has fallen to Israel and Finland, thanks to two intensely creative campaigns.

The idea was unique, the first of it's kind, with real actors and professional production.

Football manager game has always been home to a very active, international community of users. The game itself lets anyone start their own football club for free, train players and coach their team against other humans. It's the original online football manager game, online since 1997, with 700 000 active users and translated into more than 50 languages.

Since 2002, regular World Cups have been organized within the game, in which the users of each league join together to select the best national team they can muster, and match it against other nations. Users even get to participate in a hosting competition, which decides what league will get to arrange the virtual World Cups. It is a process similar too - but much more inclusive - than the real world FIFA World Cup selection process.

  • We wanted to show the beautiful Israel to the rest of the Hattrick users, says Roni Menashe, a 33 years old diamond manufacturer from Herzelya in Israel, and one of the main organizers behind the Israeli World Cup bid, which resulted in Israel being named hosts for the 18th Hattrick World Cup.

Israel's winning bid was a joint effort of the community. Several concepts had been discussed in the local community forum, the ideas were then narrowed down and several users joined together to produce the campaign material: A 4 minute YouTube video, an official logo and an official mascot. The concept? Humour, originality and great production values.

"The idea was unique, the first of it's kind, with real actors and professional production. We thought about something different - no more just boring pictures of the country and stadiums, but something else - original, funny, a video that'll catch the voter and it's eyes." says Roni Menashe.

The video portrays a little boy at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, sending a handwritten message to God. "I wish for Israel to play in the World Cup". The video then shows God receiving the message, lamenting the tragedy of the Israeli people's unanswered love for the game of football, and pleading to the Hattrick community to at least let them experience a virtual World Cup, since a country of such poor footballing skills would never be considered for the real one.

"We knew we had a good and unique bid, but had great competitors, so it was really close. But I'm always try to remain positive. And guess what? It worked!" continues Roni Menashe.

The Finland video bid had a refreshing quirkiness, far removed from anything ever seen in real world tournament campaigns. It can be described as a little celebration of friendship between man and football, set on the frozen water of the Baltic Sea. Closing second in the competition, Finland will also be rewarded a World Cup, in their case the U20 tournament.

  • Finland has never organized such a huge football competition in real life, perhaps it gave us some motivation. We wanted to show the world what the Finnish community is able to produce, says Janne-Henrik Fjäder, a 23 year old engineering student from Turku in Finland, and one of the organizers of the bid.

For the winners, the work has really just started. The two will host tournaments that will turn them into the focus of the global Hattrick community for several months, and the ambition is to create various events and happenings during the tournaments for the enjoyment of the other Hattrick users.

"There are some great ideas for what we will do, we just need to develop it and see how to execute it in the same level of our video. There's an Israeli community meeting next month, we'll make the decision there", says Roni Menashe.

"We have lots of plans for U20 World Cup", says Janne-Henrik Fjäder. "Firstly, we are going to create a magnificent website and we want to make it active. We'll add lots of articles and information about WC into website. We also want to make activities like a prediction contest or a challenge tournament. We will use Hattrick Press and forums inside HT and we're looking forward to organize some live discussions. We want to make a active World Cup, make a World Cup that everyone notices and make sure everyone can take part in the happenings. We want to get some action into the World Cup!"

Links to the the Winning Bids



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Johan Gustafsson

Jacob Gustafsson