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The 2017 Confederations Cup is nearly over and with all the incredulous transfer speculation, many people would be forgiven for tuning in late. How can this be?
Well, it’s a small competition with only 8 international teams representing the 6 football confederations.
The present 2017 competition from the start was set up as follows.
Germany (2014 World Cup Winners)
Australia (2015 AFC Asian Cup winners)
Chile (2015 Copa America winners)
Mexico (2015 CONCACAF winners)
New Zealand (2015 OFC Nations Cup winners)
Portugal (UEFA Euro 2016 winners)
Cameroon (2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners)
On paper this looks really exciting as every team except the hosts have won an international competition in their region.
So why is the Confederations Cup never really remembered as a competition comparable to a World Cup or the European Championships?
It could be argued that this is a glorified friendly trophy that FIFA could do without. Let’s argue the tournament drawbacks for a moment.
The top players are tired or busy?
Most players are tired from their domestic club football, and are looking to take a summer break to rest for the coming season. Other players are either injured or have different priorities.
Summer could a perfect time to rejuvenate their career with a transfer to another club, and for that reason they may not be available for this tournament.
But when you analyse a little deeper, evidence on this year’s competition doesn’t support that claim.
The most famous footballer in the world; Cristiano Ronaldo has his share of off the field headaches regarding his tax affairs, yet he is a central figure in Portugal’s tournament this year, scoring two goals to date and his team are now in the semi final to face Mexico.
Similarly Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal (Chile) along with Javier Hernandez (Mexico) are all national and world stars, yet they are in Russia to play this year.
However it must be said, World Cup winners Germany are missing a lot of their big names, with rising star Julian Draxler captaining the side. The less said about the hosts Russia’s players the better.
Let’s not lie, the Confederations Cup isn’t the most awe inspiring international cup competition by far
Only established in 1992, it does lack a history and prestige that the other major tournaments bring with them. But that’s not to say it’s not an important tournament.
On the contrary, and here’s why.
Less established nations get vital practice
The competition gives vital big game experience to the world’s lesser-known nations, like Australia, New Zealand and to an extent Cameroon.
These sides get limited opportunity to face top quality opposition, and they can come away from the tournament with a better gauge of where there standard is, and where they need to improve before the likes of the World Cup that comes a few years later.
It’s a good trial run for future World Cup hosts
In recent years the future World Cup hosts have gotten vital experience hosting the Confederations Cup that is played prior.
This is a great opportunity to practice managing a tournament for the country’s government in terms of transport, hotels, policing, and advertising to name but a few.
It’s a good tournament to trial rule new policies and rules in the game
This year’s Confederations Cup will be remembered as much for the trial of video assistance technology as anything else.
The introduction has been a qualified success, although it has raised valid questions about the best way this system can make officiating more effective without destroying the continuity of the game.
Expect that debate could go on for a while.
A global sport
Lets not forget; football is a truly global game and the world’s most popular sport, so it should be represented that way.
Many people want the opportunity to watch their country play an international tournament (and hopefully try to win it).
World Cups are never cheap or easy to get tickets for, so this is another opportunity for fans to travel and cheer their nation on.
Written by Nicholas Behan
Follow Nicholas on Twitter @NicholasBehan
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