The FIFA World Cup – the most prestigious competition that every player dreams of winning. The thought of wearing the captain’s armband and lifting the trophy together with your compatriots has been the ultimate goal for most footballers.
“I’m sure sex wouldn’t be as rewarding as winning the World Cup. It’s not that good, but the World Cup is every four years and sex is not.” said Ronaldo, who won the World Cup twice with Brazil.
Yet, if you just added the word “club” to the title, barely anyone bats an eye. That’s the inherent truth about the FIFA Club World Cup. It is nothing more than a glorified cup competition that has no bearing on the competing teams’ success.
As stated by FIFA, the primary purpose of this competition is to decide on the champions of the world are at club level. It pits the winners of the various continental cup competitions against each other, a concept which seems appealing in theory but is significantly less exciting when practiced. The winners of the respective Champions Leagues in Asia, Oceania, Africa, North America, South America, and Europe battle it out over a span of six matches.
The tournament starts off with the play-off round where the winners of the OFC Champion’s League (Oceania) will play the winner of the host country’s premier league. From there, the winner will progress to the quarterfinal stage where just four teams are involved. The other three teams of the quarterfinal stage are the winners of the AFC, CONCACAF, and CAF Champion’s Leagues.
The two successful quarter finalists will then proceed to the semifinals where they will face the winners of the Copa Libertadores and UEFA Champion’s League who get byes into this round of the competition. From there, the final two teams will proceed to the final to eventually become crowned as the champions of the world. The status is officially recognised by FIFA but to fans and players alike, it’s nothing more than just another piece of silverware.
So, despite putting all the best teams from each continent against each other, why hasn’t this competition gained as much traction as the World Cup has? A huge reason is that the quality of football is different across each continent.
Europe, of course, is at the highest level while the other continents like Asia pale in comparison in terms of their footballing ability. Hence, you could have teams from Europe dominating the competition and as history has shown, this has been the case for the past few years with European clubs winning 11 of the last 15 competitions. This leaves no element of unpredictability as there is with other tournaments.
In fact, teams would be better off without it as they won’t have to play an extra set of games each year. The worse thing about this competition is that it is held around December which is right in the middle of most countries’ football season. Take the Premier League for instance – December is the most hectic period with many games squeezed into that month. Albeit, while the FIFA Club World Cup does provide some form of revenue to those who participate, the trade-off between winning this competition and potentially missing out on the league title due to fatigue from playing in the FIFA Club World Cup is not a positive one.
Evidently problematic this season, Liverpool will play two cup competitions on two continents in less than 24 hours next month after the EFL agreed to their request to stage the Carabao Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa as originally scheduled.
Klopp had threatened to withdraw Liverpool from the competition over a fixture clash with the Club World Cup and dismissed the idea of playing different teams in the competitions.
This year, the teams competing are none other than European Champions, Liverpool, who are back in the competition for the first time since 2005. From North America, CF Monterrey will represent their continent as this year’s winners of the CONCACAF Champions League. Meanwhile, Oceania will be represented by Hienghene Sport from New Caledonia. The remaining teams are yet to be confirmed for this year’s tournament which will take place in December as usual in the host nation of Qatar.
Under the leadership of Gianni Infantino, FIFA has recognised that this competition is not as exciting as it should be. So, he has proposed a restructuring of the competition in the hopes of making it a more prominent tournament by increasing the number of teams to 32 rather than just seven teams. They are also thinking of hosting it every four years during the pre-season break rather than every year in the midst of the season to avoid hindering teams’ progress in their respective leagues.
Essentially, they are trying to evolve the FIFA Club World Cup into what it actually should be: the top teams from each continent competing against each other to see who the best in the world is. As of this year, the current decision is to begin the modification to the tournament from 2021 onward.
But for now, it shall remain as it is – collateral damage by FIFA.Leave a comment