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The Club World Cup Has Lost Its Purpose

The FIFA Club World Cup is no longer an appropriate measure to determine the best club team in the world.

Due to the huge investments in European football over the past decade, European clubs (UEFA) have a big financial advantage over the rest of the world and can buy the best players, giving them a big advantage over other confederations . Moreover, the format of the tournament is designed to favor UEFA and South America (Conmebol), which is unfair to other teams.

The problem is that the competition failed to keep up with the changes in the game and therefore lost its relevance and purpose.

GOAL OF THE TOURNAMENT

The competition was launched in 2000 (when it absorbed its predecessor the Intercontinental Cup) and was formed as an annual competition to showcase the best homegrown talent from the various confederations. The idea was that the winners of each continental tournament would compete against each other and the winner would be crowned as the best club team in the world. It was the theory, but in practice it turned out to be different.

Previously, the best non-European players continued their career in their country of origin and were unknown to foreign audiences. The Club World Cup gave these players a chance to show their skills on the world stage and at that time there was parity between clubs in Europe and South America.

Conmebol teams won the trophy in the first three years of the competition, but after that European teams dominated and the balance of power shifted to Europe.

DAVID versus GOLIATH

The start of European dominance coincided at the turn of the current century with a massive influx of investment into UEFA football at club level. The consequence is that today there is a great disparity in income between European clubs and other confederations.

The winner of the European Champions League earns far more money than the other continental tournaments combined. Real Madrid earned $70.1 million last season for winning the UEFA Champions League. In contrast, San Lorenzo earned $6.1m for winning the Copa Libertadores (Conmebol), ES Setie earned $1.8m for winning the African Champions League (CAF) and Western Asia Sydney Wanderers won much the same for beating Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal over two legs (YAHOO SPORTS – Why is the Club World Cup still struggling to gain relevance?; by Peter Staunton, 12 December 2014).

With so much money in hand, the best talent money can buy is in Europe’s major leagues, lured by the lucrative contracts these leagues have to offer. This means that Europe has its own talent and that of the rest of the world at its disposal.

The biggest losers from the exodus of football talent to Europe are Brazil and Argentina who are the main exporters of players, so what is Europe’s gain is South America’s loss .

As a result, all other Club World Cup teams are at a disadvantage to the European Champions League holders. The tournament has grown from a rivalry to a battle of David against Goliath, between European clubs represented by what amounts to a world XI made up mainly of the best international players and minnows, understanding what remains after the best of their talents. were hijacked by major UEFA clubs.

The current champion, Real Madrid, is a combination of some of the most expensive and best international players coming from Spain (Casillas and Sergio Ramos), France (Benzema and Varane), Portugal (Ronaldo and Pepe), Portugal (Ronaldo and Pepe), Germany (Kroos), Brazil (Marcelo), Colombia (Rodriquez), Wales (Bale) and Mexico (Chicharito). This assembly of players is hardly representative of the local game in Spain. For three players, namely Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriquez, the club paid $367.8 million. Only twelve clubs in the world have a squad of players whose market value is worth more than the total cost of those three players.

Compare that to Auckland City FC, one of its competitors in this year’s Club World Cup, which is a team of just amateurs with full-time occupations outside of football.

A look at some of the previous champions reveals the strong foreign component of their teams. In 2010, when Inter Milan (Italy) won the cup, only 5 players in their squad of 23 were Italian while the rest were mainly from South America. Even TV commentators didn’t follow the changes as they still called the Inter team ‘the Italians’.

In 2011, Barcelona won the cup and 10 of their 23-man squad came from abroad.

WEIRD FORMAT

Another big problem with the tournament is that teams from UEFA and South America are exempted from the semi-finals and start playing even after some teams are eliminated. This is intentionally done so that only the biggest clubs will play each other in the final. So far, only teams from these two continents have won and only one away team has qualified for the final, namely last year’s surprise runners-up, Congolese side TP Mazembe.

Given the financial advantage UEFA enjoys and the bizarre format currently in place, the Club World Cup can hardly be called the fairest competition and the winner can no longer rightfully be called ‘the best in the world’. than the winners of the first. Intercontinental Cup which was limited to UEFA and Conmebol. The tournament has lost its importance and hardly boasts. A few years ago I won a dance competition but the other contestants couldn’t dance, so was my victory something to brag about?

A certain parity must be restored in the competition. Brazil and Argentina have started raising salaries in their local leagues to encourage their players to stay at home. It’s a start but on top of that FIFA needs to limit the number of foreign players available to each team to, say, two and change the format so that all competing teams play the same number of qualifying matches. Failing this, it is useless to continue the competition in its current form.

Victor A. Dixon

December 23, 2014

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