Tell us something new. We already knew Barcelona was the best club side
in the world. They didn't have to go traipsing off to Japan to prove it.
The locals loved it but few others shared their passion or interest for
a competition lacking in credibility or heritage.
return to Spain will coincide with a reality check. Their fiercest
rivals have stolen a march and their World Cup hero is out for the
season. While they were gone, Real Madrid returned to the top of La Liga
and boosted their goal difference in the process, while David Villa
faces months of rehab after breaking his leg in the Far East.
European Champions are being punished for their success. Flying half
way round the world for a pre-season promotional tour is one thing.
Doing so in mid-season makes no sense for a team trying to focus on
retaining its domestic crown, then adding another European trophy to its
array of silverware.
FIFA's awkwardly named Club World Cup is
the wrong event at the wrong time with most of the wrong teams. World
Cups are for nations, not for club teams with as many, if not more,
foreigners on their payroll as domestic players.Profit trumps prestige
world governing body has put profit ahead of prestige. Once upon a time
there was real competition, involving just two clubs. The
Intercontinental Cup used to be an annual home and away challenge
between the Champions of Europe and South America to determine the
unofficial world champions.
When the world was a bigger place
and air travel was still seen as something of a thrill ride, the
Intercontinental Cup represented heady times. We saw exotic teams from
South America playing a different brand of futbol against their European
More seasoned Manchester United fans will recall
the infamous 1968 series against Estudiantes. The bad blood which began
in Buenos Aires spilled over into the decider at Old Trafford. Players
from both sides were ultimately to blame but when the dust finally
settled, the Argentines had silenced the European Champions in front of
their own fans.
It was rivalry at its most raw. Who needed
corporate sponsors when you had unrehearsed, no holds barred theatre? As
a young, impressionable boy I remember my father using words I had
never heard nor understood. But I sensed they were words not to be used
in front of my mother.
FIFA assumed control in 2005. They have
transformed it into a global event - or at least they think they have.
Its six Confederations are now invited to send a representative to
battle it out for the Club World Cup accompanied by the host J-League
champions in a 10 day competition.
It is neatly packaged but it
has lost its soul. I understand the concept and the reasoning behind
the revamped tournament but there is no way on earth you can convince me
FC Barcelona should be competing in the same competition as Auckland
The two will never actually meet of course. The plucky
New Zealanders are eliminated long before the heavyweights take to the
field in Japan which is probably just as well given the ease with which
Pep Guardiola's men swept to victory in both their semi-final and the
Championship game itself against Santos of Brazil.
must have ambition to be the best. If it doesn't it is cheating its
fans, and without the fans there is no point turning up in the first
place. I have no problem with continental championships but I draw the
line when these proud winners are used as makeweights in a manufactured
event to satisfy FIFA's global sponsors.
If we want a true Club
World Cup, it must involve the world's best teams. What we have now is
an odd numbered competition based on geographical supremacy, featuring
the crowd pulling European champions, conveniently allowing FIFA to
spread its gospel and ensure global awareness for its platinum partners.Flawed concept?
if the unthinkable happened? On the basis that every dog has its day,
let's assume Auckland City went above and beyond and managed to beat
Barca. Ergo they would become Club World Cup Champions. But it wouldn't
make them the world's number one team or even the 101st best team. It
In a year from now, Toronto FC could be taking
part. Aron Winter's team is just 6 games away from booking its berth at
the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup. Unlikely as it seems, Canada's lone
representative has the chance to rub shoulders with soccer's giants.
would be a tremendous achievement for the fledgling club and provide a
huge shot in the arm for Major League Soccer. The resulting publicity
would raise the profile of the league both at home and abroad and might
even tempt Nicholas Anelka to rethink his move to China.
let's face facts. Neither Toronto FC nor any of its MLS rivals are
competing on a level playing field with Barcelona or Santos. Lumping
them together in an end of year Japanese jamboree might make commercial
sense to its organizers, but it doesn't excite the fan in me.
the Club World Cup has done nothing for Barcelona or its reputation. It
has, however, cost them top spot at home and one of their most
experienced strikers for the remainder of the campaign. I only hope
Barca supporters, who own the club, feel it was a price worth paying.
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