fifa club world cup – a pretty bad joke!

rafa benitez, when he was still welcome at internazionale; now, not even the fifa club world cup might save his job!

internazionale milan is in a little bit of a crisis. the reigning european champions have slipped in the serie a, and their latest display on international grounds was an embarresment to the team – a 0x3 loss in bremen, a match i actually attended. italian media reports that not even a fifa club world cup title will save his job. fifa club world cup? what was that again, many europeans might ask. if you go to south america, though, people know pretty well what that is. a quick look into the history of this competition will make this discrepancy clearer.

once upon a time, europe decided to create continental competitions to figure out which teams were the best in the continent. it all started with the first european cup in 1955, now known as uefa champions league; the idea was to play a knock-out tournament with all the current national champions parallel to the new season; away and home matches would decide the progression of a team, and the final was held in a neutral place to crown europe’s true champion. the uefa cup (at the founding time called inter-cities fairs cup) started a few years later, and the cup winner’s cup (now extinct) only in the 60s. but generally, a the team winning the european cup was viewed as the best team in the world.

pele for santos and eusebio for benfica - the 1962 final of the newly founded intercontinental cup.

south america couldn’t have that. their teams had a great tradition on their continent, and by 1958, south american nations had one three of six fifa world cups. while real madrid was winning the european cup every year, being considered the world’s best seemed arrogant to south american clubs. out of that feeling came the idea to create the “copa libertadores”, a competition who’s one goal was to define the best club in south america, and then to compare that club to the best one in europe. notice the historical difference: the european cup was designed to find the best club in europe, while the libertadores cup was clearly designed to defy the idea that european clubs were any better than south american ones. this is the reason why, until today, the intercontinental cup (our european-south american cup, as it was known for many years), taken hostage by fifa and now named fifa club world cup, is the maximum title a south american player can aspire for, if he plays for a south american club. for the europeans, that will never be the case, since their goal is to win the european cup, now called the uefa champions league.

the new intercontinental cup, now called world cup; the old one had europe and south american engraved...from an objective point of view, this already poses a question mark over the whole matches. Until 1980, away and home matches would decide the european-south american champion, often referred to as world champion. but many teams from europea wouldn’t bother to actually play those matches, since there was little to no prestige in it for them. after tokyo took over hosting and sponsoring, europeans always went to play the match – but more for the incredible amount of money than for the chance to defend european glory. so how can you take a match seriously, when the only way one side will give it some commitment is if you pay them enough to do so? with the other side so eager to win, based on sports merits? at times, a south american club would arrive in tokyo a full month earilier, while the european team would fly in after a league game on the weekend, just a couple of days before the match.

and nothing has really changed. while some teams hire players for that one match (and pay a lot of money for it), basically no european country will even broadcast it live. rafa benitez, stumbling head coach of uefa champions league winners internazionale, has been told that even a victory in fifa’s competition will not really improve his chances of not getting sacked – incredible for south american clubs!

when there was no real money involved, only the south americans really took the matches seriously. until 1970, giants like real madrid, milan, internazionale and benfica actually played the matches, but with little success. there is some merit to be given to teams like santos, peñarol and such, and at the end of the decade (and first 11 matchups), south americans had won six. looking at it objectively, though, this only seemed to confirm european superiority. but it led many south americans to believe that the football played on their continent was at least of the same level as in europe.

internacional, from porto alegre, brazil, will probably reach the final today; they've one the cup once, a few years ago against barcelona.

this impression was confirmed in the 70s, but it was nontheless a false one. european clubs really didn’t see the point in spending money to play a game they didn’t have the motivation for; and the trophy was little aprecciated even by the fans. it was always viewed as a nice bonus, but not really important. ajax won the european cup three times between 71-73, but only bothered to play one intercontinental final, where they beat independiente from argentina; from 74-76, bayern munich won the title in europe, but only played once, too: against cruzeiro from brazil, taking the prize. the lack of interest by the champions gave clubs like panathinaikos athens, atletico madrid and even borussia mönchengladbach a chance to play for the title. 1975 and 1978 the matches were cancelled alltogether, liverpool and bayern munich didn’t show any interest, and neither did anyone else. in 1979, nottingham forrest didn’t go, and malmö ff took over. even with these stories and juventus not wanting to play the match in buenos aires after losing 0x1 at home to independiente, europe won 3 of 7 duels. once again a pretty bad record for the south americans, if you look beyond the surface.

finally toyota came into the scene, helping uefa and conmebol to make the match more attractive to europeans. money was now involved, and one match instead of two also helped motivate europeans, who were now incentivated by uefa to go and do some good marketing for football, in asia. if you look at it from a sports point of view, you were taking the match away mostly from the south american fans, who actually cared. but if europeans were to take it more seriously now, so be it. after all, the motivation was still the same: to show europe where the best football was being played.

grêmio, another club from porto alegre, will be rooting for internazionale. becayse if the brazilian inter beats the european one, grêmio will have a "world title" less than internacional; by the way, they won theirs against hamburg, in 1984.

the new constellation meant that south americans were still playing for maximum honor, while europeans were motivated by some extra yens. and so, nottingham forrest, who had refused to play in 1979, took a plane to tokyo and lost to nacional. what followed delighted the south americans: 7 out of the following 9 finals were won by them, nacional uruguai even won twice. what had caused this big advantage? well, finally the passion for that particular match was paying off. preperation for tokyo were often weeks long in japan for these south american clubs, while europeans would normally arrive a day before the match. audiences would watch the match in the southern hemisphere, while no live coverages were shown in europe. basically, the europeans were picking up their checks, and were motivated purely by the fact that south americans were so extremely motivated. after all, no one wants to lose a match.

since 1995, the second time i ever watched this match (the first time was also in brazil, with brazilian participation in the final), the table has turned somewhat. in terms of results. interest is still extremely low on the old continent, not a single tv station had live pictures from last year’s final (who played whom again??); but the money and marketing involved are increasing, and that’s due to the professional money makers from fifa, who had not been involved with this competition at all. until today, fifa consideres the first club world champion to be the winner of their first ever such tournament, won by corinthians – a team that has never even won the libertadores cup! and the greater joke was that manchester united, the 1999 uefa champions league winner (dramatic final against bayern), didn’t want to play the tournament. they’d played the intercontinental final (which still existed) and won it (as most europeans were, after 1994), and now they would have to either play fifa’s new tournament or the fa cup. it is obvious that both club and players preferred to play first round fa cup action than this stupid tournament in brazil’s hot summer.

fifa’s tournament was an embarresment for everyone envolved, the title match being between two brazilian clubs (none of them had even recently won the libertadores cup). real madrid and manchester united showed a clear lack of interest, and fifa would not try again until 2005. the intercontinental cup was still alive and running every single year, until fc porto beat once caldas in the last japonese final. in those last 10 years of japan, europe won the title seven times. it’s not a coincidence that this started after the bosman ruling and the invasion of south american players in european top leagues – they were historically motivated to win the that title, even if they were now making the opposite point.

fifa wants money, so fifa started organizing the "fifa club world cup". a sad affair.

fifa had now basically bought the right to be exclusively responsible for crowining the world club champion. all confederations sent their title holders, but up to now, europe and south america have always played the final. this should probably also happen next sunday, when internacional (bra) and internazionale are expected to play the final. and the only people really caring will be either the population of the south brazilian city porto alegre, and the inter fans for their own; and the internazionale fans mostly in south america. once again we’ll see images which show seemingly sad players from the italian club after losing, and brazilian fans saying “see, they do care about he match”. this sentence says it all.

the fifa club world cup (which used to be called “fifa club world championship” but had it named change to sound more like the much more important “fifa world cup”) is a money-making scheme where only one club really desires to hold that title in their hands. the big joke of the tournament is that the fans from grêmio porto alegre, internacional’s city rivals, will be rooting more for internazionale milano than the interisti themselves. that says it all! and the joke is also on fifa, who are selling the tv rights to the dubai spectacle at such high prices that europeans are still not interested in buying them.

and the last joke might be on the spaniard rafa benitez; the might be the fifa world champion and lose his job just a few weeks later. which makes it pretty clear: even if south american club football were better than the european game (a point no true specialist would dare to make), the intercontinental cup or the fifa club world cup wouldn’t answer the question. instead, ask yourself how many of the players participating in the world cup quarterfinal this year played in european clubs. and how much of the tactics in that world cup was inspired by south american leagues.

european club football will always be better south american club football, just as the uefa champions league has a much higher quality than the copa libertadores. and more and more south americans are admitting this. i do admit it was less clear in the 60s and 70s, but even then that was true.


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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Copa intercontinental não é mundial, ou seja se o inter for campeao esse ano vai ser o unico clube bi campeao do mundo.

    Fifa World Club Cup = Justo e coerente. Tem times de todos os continentes e nao apenas de dois continentes.

    • vc tem algum problema mental? SPFC TEM 3 mundiais numca o internacional vai chegar perto

  2. ”european club football will always be better south american club football”

    Corinthians, Inter, Sao Paulo, Fluminense, Cruzeiro no mesmo nivel de qualquer clube europeu. ISSO É FATO.

    voces europeus que só vivem de numeros e fatos, me explica pq o sao paulo ganho do liverpool e o inter ganho da internazionale e do barcelona. Simples jogadores e treinadores brasileiors sao melhores que os europeus

    • corinthians ñ tem chances com nemhum time da europa , PERDEU ATÉ DO TOLIMA …. mas o resto eu concordo SPFC,cruzeiro e flu tem chances

  3. #fail inter

    and samir, those victories are explained in the post above.

    • #fail Inter???? Why??
      Say this to barcelona!! hahahaha

  4. samir, and if the final were to be mazembe against the korean club? is the winner the best team in the world?
    COME ON!!!

    • Of course!! They would be the best club of the world that year!! If a Korean club win FIFA World Club Cup it means that they beat european and South America clubs, and therefore they are the best of that year! Oh my God!!! It’s so simple!! How can’t you understand that!!! The fact that the european clubs have money to buy the so called best players of the world doesn’t mean that the club is the best! It means that their players are good! That’s a great difference. But I can understand you…if the team that I support spend a lot of money to buy players all around the world, and then they lose to a poor Brazilian team….I would be nervous too. It’s very funny to read this european news…The best players of european clubs aren’t even from europe…hahahha….and they think that they are the one!hahaha

  5. In 1982 Italy was the best team in the world ?

    I’m just saying that a game is won in the field and not by statistics. Um time nao vai ganhar um jogo porque teve mais jogadores disputando uma copa do mundo.

  6. italy was the best in 1982. they beat brazil. they were the best.

    • Ok. You can erase my comment how many times you want, but I still think that you should write the name of the countries with capital letters, just like this: Italy, Brazil.

  7. Nessa logica o mazembe eh melhor que o Inter, United States melhor que espanha, Suiça é melhor que espanha, Hercules melhor que o Barcelona. Essa é a graça do futebol, nem sempre o melhor vence. Porque os jogos são decididos dentro de campo e nao com numeros e fatos fora dele.

  8. you’re right.
    which is why this championship is unfair and has been. it is one game, or was.
    world cup has 7 matches per team, so some results can be reverted.
    copa libertadores and champions league have many games, too.
    this tournament is a joke because there is lack of proper motivation and not enough games.

    • Exactly. How many matches do we have in the World Cup Final? One, right? Can this result be reverted? No, right? And I think you agree with this rule, right?
      It’s just one game in the FIFA Club World Cup because the clubs have already been selected by Libertadores or champions league. Now it’s the final match my friend, and the result can’t be reverted, just like World Cup, that’s why europeans fear the clubs all around the world, just like World Cup too.

  9. world cup has 7 matches but 4 of them is in the knockout stage.

    O mundial nao é piada porque nao tem como voce colocar mais times no torneio, ou seja não da para fazer o formato igual o da champions e do mundial.Se voce colocasse todos os campeoes e vice campeoes dos continentes seriam cerca de 16 times. Nao tem data para fazer tanto jogo assim, por isso que voce precisa elitizar o mundial.

  10. “elitizar o mundial”… i get your idea, do you get mine? that only the non-europeans have any interest of actually winning it or consider it a big title.

    • Wrong. It is not a big title. It is the biggest title of the whole world, that’s why they call it FIFA Club WORLD Cup.

  11. i got your idea, but who cares about what europeans think about the world club cup. The tournament is there to be played.

    ps: I can remember Steven Gerrard crying when Liverpool lost against São Paulo.

    • I remember that too!! Good point!!

  12. a inter de milao jogou com muita seriedade e comemorou muito o mundial da fifa. Mas como um clube europeu, que não ´ta nem aí’ com o torneio mais importante de clubes do mundo comemorou o titulo ?

    Resposta: A inter, campea italiana, copa da italia, da europa e do mundo tem 8 sul americanos na equipe titular. A equipe campea da europa e do mundo tem quase o triplo de sulamericanos do que europeus na equipe titular. Agora sei porque os clubes europeus sao os melhores e mais ricos do mundo = Graças aos jogadores sul americanos. Se nao fossem eles, nao teria futebol de nivel na europa.

  13. aí finalmente concordamos!

  14. ah e o título foi tão importante que benitez vai ser demitido mesmo assim!

    • Have you ever realized that the rest of the world don’t care if the europeans don’t care about the FIFA Club World Cup? That’s a good question!! You should think about it, dear figobay.
      The championship won by corinthians in 2000 was a pilot and didn’t mean anything, and was not supposed to mean anything. The real world champions that year were Boca Juniors (Argentina), who won against real madrid in the Intercontinental Cup. Everyone, even in Brazil, know that. The only people who say that corinthians were world champions that year are their supporters, and period.

      • All the Intercontinental Cup history and the new FIFA Club World Cup can’t be jeopardized by a single year championship (2000) that was a pilot and didn’t mean anything.

  15. o que pesou foi ele ter criticado a diretoria em publico.

    O titulo tem muita importancia para o clube, mas em um torneio de tiro curto o treinador nao tem tanta importancia como os jogadores.

  16. Ok, I’m not from South America but…How can we say that an european club is the best of the world if they just won europeans cups?? How can you say that?…The fact that europeans don’t care about this Cup is easy to explain….FEAR!!! Other fact that everyone in the world know except europeans: The europeans clubs just win the Champions League because Brazilian and Argentinian clubs can’t play on Champions League. That’s a fact! Anyone can deny this…it’s well know all around the world. If FIFA call it Club World Cup…so who win it is World Champion, and the best club of the world in that year. It’s simple!


  18. eu acho que voce não sabe nada de futebol!
    o São Paulo Futebol Clube é tri Mundial e todos sabem disso.

  19. what’s a pretty bad joke is the title of “observer” in this blog, for that you have to take your head out of your arse.
    “european club football will always be better south american club football”
    Last world cup had in quarter finals a ton of South American teams, that proves just the opposite, that is unless you consider the world cup another pretty bad joke too, in which case means that this blog is just a rambling waste of space in some hardrive.

    • don’t trip.
      count how many of the quarterfinalists in the world cup played in europe, and how many in south america.

  20. Nice post. I´m from Brazil and it´s nice to see how you people from Europe really see this. A lot of guys from my country came here to say you are wrong or something like this….well….to bad, it´s a stupid nacionalism.

    The best clubs, best players are in Europe. People from all around the world cheer for ManUntd, Chelsea, Inter, Bayern, Real, Barça. So it´s pretty obvius that win the Champions League is the highest level for a club. If I was there I would think the same.

    I hope that in the future Copa Libertadores could be more professional, we could keep our best players and our teans were see as internacional. Maybe, maaaaaybe after this in the end of the year European Clubs would really want to challenge us..

  21. You are a moron with utterly ridiculous fantasies about England being the best in everything. Everything you said is not only a complete lie with false information…you don’t even grasp the basic principles behind the sport. You have made everyone that read this dumber and may god have mercy on your soul and your inferiority complex.

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