James Iles argues it is about time we all embrace the Confederations Cup and give it the love and respect it deserves...
The 2013 Confederation’s Cup is now underway! The summer long football void in the UK has been filled with a chance to watch some of the best teams in the world battle it out on the international stage. So why are people not that bothered?
I for one and thrilled that the tournament has started and we have been treated to some cracking games and stunning goals already. However many of my friends and colleagues have cast it aside, paying it no attention and some did not even know it was taking place!
So let’s get down to basics, what is the Confederation’s Cup?
The FIFA Confederation’s Cup, to give it its full name, is a simple international tournament played the year before a World Cup. Some people label it a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the main event as it is played in the city which will host the World Cup the following summer. It contains only 8 teams who start in 2 groups of 4. After the group stage the top 2 teams from each group are then drawn into a standard knockout competition. The 8 teams are comprised of the winners of the following competitions - UEFA Euros, Copa America, CONCACAF tournament, Confederation of African Football tournament, AFC Asian Cup, OFC Nation’s Cup, the FIFA World Cup and of course the host nation.
This brings me nicely to my main reason for getting behind this tournament. The basic concept is to have ‘the best of the best’ from all around the world. It could be described as a condensed international version of the Champion’s League, which is one of the most popular competitions in world football.
This year we see Brazil, Spain, Uruguay and Italy filling half the spaces, these are 4 of the most exciting international teams to watch in the world today and aside from Tahiti the other competitors are certainly not too shabby. Nigeria, Japan and Mexico complete the line up. All of which have some cracking talents to look out for including Javier Hernandez of Manchester United and Honda from CSKA Moscow. On the subject of players I would like to just give you a little list of the players who are on show this summer, Balotelli, Thiago Silva, Oscar, Neymar, Hulk, Pirlo, Buffon, De Rossi, El Shaarawy, Cavani, Suarez, David Silva, Xavi, Iniesta, Mata, Fabregas... I could go on but I think you get the point.
There is a huge pool of talent in this tournament which should be enough of an incentive to watch this summer. However I have some more reasons for those of you who are harder to convince.
I mentioned that the competition starts with 8 teams making up the 2 groups, that’s right only 8 teams and only 2 groups. This is a huge plus for me as competitions like the Euros and the ‘Champions’ League seem to be swelling and bloating season after season, dragging out tedious group stages before the real action begins. That is certainly not the case with this tantalisingly concentrated tournament. UEFA have confirmed the Euros are being expanded to a massive 24 teams in 2016, so we need to make the most of this distilled competition while we can.
Yes more teams means more football, but it’s clear to see from the last few major international tournaments that the volume of teams also dilutes the quality of the football being played. So ask yourself would you rather and a lovely pint of beer with a thick creamy head in an ice cold glass, or 2 pints of warm shandy in plastic cups?
A few months ago I wrote an article about how TV coverage has changed the way we all enjoy football. The problem is that pay TV services are very quick to cash is on the popularity of the biggest and best footballing occasions.
For some reason they overlook the Confederation’s Cup and leave it to the BBC, like a pack of Lion’s leaving a scrap of grizzle for a scrawny hyena.
This is fantastic news for us fans! You get to see all these amazing players and teams for free! The games are broadcast live on freeview and not only that goals and highlights are readily available online within minutes for absolutely nothing, thanks to the lack of licensing around the competition. So just because the games are not built up on satellite TV with mock movie trailers and dramatic voiceovers don’t let that fool you into thinking that the Confederation’s Cup is not worth a watch.
Have you seen goals from the opening round of games from Pirlo, Suarez and Neymar?
What more could you ask for?
image: © leandrociuffo