Posted by:
jeevs BS

I found this story on ESPNsoccernet talking about the club world cup:


How FIFA can conquer the club world 

Just after midday on Sunday, a full-strength Manchester United team will struggle unconvincingly to a narrow victory over Ecuador's LDU Quito in a slow-paced and low-scoring dull game and be crowned World Club Champions. Very few people outside either club will really care.

Manchester United's 5-3 win over Osaka gives them the not-so coveted chance to be world champion of football.

Right now, the World Club Championship has all the credibility of a Bernie Madoff promise. Since the tournament's expansion in 1999, FIFA has experimented with a series of inexplicable variations, running the competition with a reckless thoughtlessness that puts the BBC to shame.

In the eyes of many, it has become little more than a jolly for the players and a cash cow for everyone else, rather than a showpiece jamboree culminating with the winning team's legitimate anointment as Champions of Planet Earth.

Such a title ought not to be sneezed at. For the winners it's the definitive accolade, for everyone else it enshrines as unarguable fact the information all sports seek to establish; who is the best.

The tournament's current design, however - randomly scheduled in mid-season and of arbitrary composition - doesn't allow anyone to declare such a position with real authority; it couldn't be any more of a sideshow if you turned it into a homicidal Bart Simpson-obsessed maniac, gave it dreadlocks and called it Bob. But this needn't be the case.

Why should there not be a real World Cup for clubs held every four summers hosted according to a rota of competing countries, rather than an annual impostor staged by whoever will throw most money at it?


The club world vs the national team world:



Aside from the notable exception of Euro 2008, the international tournaments of the last 20 years have been high on tedium and low on class. With the standard of the next Euro already compromised by the incorporation of more teams for financial gain, the chances of another classic are slim.

Additionally, in the opinion of many judges, club football is of significantly higher quality than its international counterpart, so a Club World Cup would, as definitively as possible, identify the world's top football team while show-casing the very best the game has to offer.

To work, the structure of the tournament would have to be appropriate. Sixteen participants playing a straight knock-out would allow for strong teams and global representation, without being so long as to invite problems of player fatigue. It would also be less costly for supporters, both financially and in terms of time off work required to attend, and for the majority come at a more convenient time of the year than it does now. Factor in the chance to challenge for a title that means something, and clubs would be compelled to field their strongest teams and compete seriously.

Qualifiers would be the last four Champions League finalists, the last four winners of the Copa Libertadores and the winners of a series of play-offs between the champions of Africa and Asia (Oceania is too weak to participate now that Australia has joined Asia).

Yes, the composition of entrants is biased in favour of Europe, but so what? So is the World Cup, and the purpose of the World Club should be identical; to gather together the world's leading teams in a celebration of excellence and diversity, not a token exercise in misplaced fairness.

A proper tournament would provide an urgently needed tonic for a game as tired Rip Van Winkle on mogadon. The growing dominance of English clubs in the Champions League is defeating the purpose of cross-border competition, and the current format causes it to perpetuate itself, with the same sides playing each other repeatedly.

As a package, it's boring for the players, boring for armchair fans and boring for travelling supporters, forking out to visit the same cities over and over again. A new tournament would allow these people - the majority of whom don't follow their national sides abroad - the opportunity of a summer tournament, and changing venues would help restore the wonder of exploring new places which is at least half the fun of any foreign away trip.



Combining the current club and the national team formats?


As with anything to do with football and probably anything to do with anything, it's impossible to contemplate change without considering the financial implications, however dirty that feels. So it's worth noting that a World Club Championship would create an entirely new stream of revenue through ticketing, television coverage and sponsorship.

In addition, it would provide top class football when and where there is none and the extra money and standard of competition might encourage those playing outside Europe to stay with their clubs a little longer than they do at the moment.

A tournament reworked along the lines suggested would inject fresh impetus to benefit fans, players and commercial interests. Johnny Nash may have sung that there are more questions than answers and so there are, but if there's one thing we have a right to know it's the identity of the world's finest football team.

FIFA, it's over to you.


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