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Club World Cup: 'For the Good of the Game'

15 Dec 2008(Mon)

December 13, 2008: It's easy to criticise the FIFA Club World Cup, and to say that teams such as Adelaide United and Waitakere United have no place on the world stage.

But the same can be said of the World Cup.

Are the 32 teams that play in the World Cup every four years the best 32 teams in the world?

No, of course they are not. If FIFA wanted the best 32, most of them would be from Europe, plus Brazil and Argentina, and one or two from elsewhere.

But that's not the point. The competitions are for FIFA's six regional confederations, and it is not the fault of Waitakere United that they represent the weakest area, Oceania.

As long as the six confederations exist in their current state, FIFA has an obligation to support them and promote football in all corners of the globe.

And this is where the Club World Cup comes in, the chance for teams to win their continental championship and face the might of Europe or South America in the final tournament.

This is the most positive aspect of the Club World Cup, and why it has become a target for all clubs around the world. It may be a hassle for Manchester United to come all this way to Japan at this time of the season, just ahead of the busy Christmas and New Year holiday programme, but their presence lifts the whole profile of the tournament. In this way they are making a mighty contribution to world football, because they are official games when results will be remembered, as opposed to the friendlies they play on promotional tours.

For the players of Gamba Osaka and Adelaide United, who meet in the quarter-final on Sunday, this will be one of the most important matches of their career, with the chance to face Manchester United under the world spotlight in the last four.

So while it's fashionable to be negative, and criticise the quality of teams in the early stages, the Club World Cup must be looked at from the angle of promoting the game around the world. In this aspect it is an important FIFA event, and why it will continue to grow in stature.

I enjoyed the Adelaide-Waitakere game in Tokyo on Thursday night, and so did the crowd of almost 20,000. It was hard, fair, and both teams gave everything.

And if any J.League clubs are looking for a good left back under the "3+1" overseas player rule next season, Scott Jamieson had an outstanding match for the Aussies and is worth watching again against Gamba, especially against the lively Sasaki.


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