The FIFA Club World Cup has been running since 2005 now, and pits the champions of each confederation against each other, including the host country’s current domestic champions.
Only Japan and the UAE have had the luxury of hosting the tournament, unless you include the 2000 edition that was hosted by Brazil.
As many know the Club World Cup isn’t thought of as a very prestigious trophy in Europe; many see it as another minor trophy that the winners of the Champions League have to travel halfway across the world to compete in.
ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley failing to point out Frank Lampard is yet to win the competition and happily telling the the watch audience he has now won everything possible with Chelsea. That shows how much the tournament is seen as an after thought by the English.
In South America, however, the view is totally opposite: they see it as their chance to prove they are just as good if not better than the European sides. Now, there is no doubt this tournament could have serious potential, but maybe it needs a bit of a facelift.
The host nation, like in its international form, should change every edition. The next two editions are due to be held in Morocco, the first to be staged in Africa. A positive in the fact it has finally decided to not stay exclusive to Asia, and gives another continent a chance to experience the tournament firsthand. However, maybe changing it to a tournament played every four years, like its international version, as opposed to every season, may make this a much more prestigious tournament.
Now, I hear you asking: how would qualification work if it were every four years, would that mean only the champions of each confederation in the fourth year qualify?
Qualification would be relatively simple: if the next tournament was to be held in the year 2017, for example, the winners of the Champions League’s and their equivalents from across the world from the past four years would qualify. This sets up a 24-team tournament, consisted of six groups, with four teams per group. Seeding would be introduced as necessary, whether it be all the teams that won in 2013 in one group, then all the teams from 2014 in another group and so on or just on a general seeded draw per confederation.
The hardest part of all of this would be the timing of the tournament. Currently held in December, depending on what nation it took place in, chances are this would need to be altered. This falls in the middle of the majority of European leagues' seasons, and would pose problems, mostly for the English sides as they still refuse to accept a winter break.
Clubs from places like Spain and Germany are generally playing friendlies around this time, so that could easily be replaced by the introduction of the Club World Cup. A summer tournament is also a possibility, but that poses identical problems to winter as, for many confederations, that would fall in the middle of their seasons, and it is highly unlikely European clubs would be willing to add three additional weeks on to their season.
There is no reason why FIFA cannot make this tournament a great success. It would take some work and time to review the feasibility of this tournament, but if it could provide a good ‘payout’, and I feel for the most part this is another factor holding the tournament back currently, then the interest of European clubs certainly would increase.
With that then comes TV rights, sponsorship and it quickly becomes a gravy train for FIFA and the participating clubs.
If FIFA really pushes this tournament then there is no reason that in years to come the FIFA Club World Cup will be the biggest tournament in world club football.
In all fairness, who doesn’t want to be known as the ‘Champions of the World’?
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