First, let me start off by saying I’m a big fan! I love that World Cup thing you put together once every four years, and y’know, a bunch of other soccer and such. Recently I see you’ve been real busy doing things like picking sites for future tournaments and dealing with issues like the suggested use of fancy computer machines to call balls and strikes, er, I mean goals. Anyway, the TV and the websites tell me you’ve been taking your fair share of criticism over how you’ve dealt with some of these issues; I hear mudslinging about corruption and a refusal to step into the 21st century. That sucks, but I think you’re strong enough to weather the storm. Additionally, I’m not here to pile on about any of those issues, so you got that going for ya! But I do want to address something that falls through the cracks every year. I’m gonna need a new paragraph for this.
Why does the FIFA Club World Cup suck so bad? I mean, it’s absolutely horrible from almost every standpoint! Tournament format, promotion/marketing, venue. Suck! Suck! Suck! I understand that time constraints and the need to keep squads fresh over the course of long domestic and continental seasons have forced the tournament into a short format, but ten days and seven teams? Not acceptable. Additionally, FIFA, you don’t even try to sell the damn thing! You obviously put “World Cup” in the name of this event in an attempt to capitalize on your most popular product, otherwise it would be called the FIFA International Champions League or something like that. But it’s really as if all your marketing efforts collapsed after throwing WC out there. I understand this is still a relatively young event (currently being contested for the seventh time), but by branding it a FIFA World Cup of any variety and inviting the best clubs from each continent you’ve already made it damn marketable, so fucking market it! Make me want to stop hearing about the damn FIFA Club World Cup, rather than remember that it’s going on mid-tourney. Instead, you’ve done such a shitty job getting anyone to care about the event, that in order to drum up some interest you’ll probably end up rebranding it– changing the name a few years from now, and thus losing one of the quality selling points in the first place! Onto the venue issue, and don’t worry, this isn’t just another American taking a shot at the Middle East as a backlash to the Qatar decision. This year the FIFA Club World Cup is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates for the second year in a row. Before that, the tournament lived in Japan for four years. And finally, the first FIFA Club World Cup was held in Brazil. Seven years, three hosts. Great job FIFA, really showcasing the world’s game all over the place.
One of the only positives of the FCWC is the actual play on the pitch. True, some matches are lopsided affairs in which the well funded European team pounds a fellow Champions League winner that they probably plundered players from in the past, but we see blowouts in the actual World Cup also, and no one complains. Moreover, what your Club World Cup offers is the chance to watch massively successful teams with contrasting styles go toe-to-toe on what should rightfully be considered the world’s largest stage. And I don’t buy into the lack of regional rivalries taking the fire out of the matches either. I’ve watched these clubs play on Fox Soccer Channel when you were busy not telling anyone it was televised, and the players want to win this thing! TP Mazembe would be a heartwarming movie, like Hoosiers except not in Indiana and about African soccer players, if you just marketed it. They and other teams want to be crowned champions of the world, and just like in the Real Deal Holyfield World Cup, they don’t care where their foes are from! They want to slay the Kurgan, raise their arms to the sky, and proclaim, “There can be only one!” Besides, isn’t Argentina/England a WC-created rivalry? U.S.A./Ghana? Manchester United/Urawa Red Diamonds? One day? Why not?
Maybe you don’t even need to change the name of the thing. Maybe you can create a little scarcity and make the tournament a bigger deal by only contesting it every two years? Then you could double the size of the event by inviting two teams from each federation. And you could shuffle it around from host to host rather than letting it chill in the U.A.E. for the next four years, and maybe even make a little bit of a big deal about the product you’re delivering? I know all of soccer’s Champions League winners aren’t the greatest selling points, but you’ll have to deal with it and try to convince people to care.
But I’m not sure about any of those changes, and I’m certainly not writing to try and provide you with any productive insight. I just thought you needed a break from dealing with the stressful topics you’ve been saddled with recently… and the FIFA Club World Cup sucks.
P.S. Sorry for partying.
Jon Levy is co-founder and associate editor of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find him on Twitter at @TYAC_Jon.