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Confed Cup question?


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What's the deal with this tournament? Will it continue every 2 years? Cause I would assume FIFA would have picked a host by now but I can't find anything. Will it go to every 4 years and be held the year before at the WC host?

Or will it just be scrapped as it should.

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No, in December, FIFA announced that it would only be every 4 years, the summer before the World Cup. Therefore , there will be none in 2007 (and thus the winner of this GC won't be going). The next one is tentatively planned for South Africa in 2009. The present idea is that it is a dry run for the World Cup hosts for security, logistics etc.


"Furthermore, the Executive Committee upheld a decision reached at its meeting on 6 October 2004, stating that from 2005 onwards, the FIFA Confederations Cup will be staged in a four-year cycle, with the World Cup host nation organising it in the year before the FIFA World Cup™. However, the South American and European champions will no longer be obliged to take part."

This is the last word, but of course things could change. The tournament seems superfluous for all but the host country.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger

A vital stepping stone

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger

Ah, how quickly and how thoroughly a trifle like a World Cup can change your perception.

On Wednesday, the FIFA Confederations Cup will kick off - and all of a sudden it is without any doubt the greatest and most wonderful brainchild since Napster.

Well over 500,000 tickets for the sixteen matches have already been sold, and the organisers are targeting 600,000. All games will be covered live not only by the two public service stations but also by the subscription channel Premiere.

So, happy anticipation and a genuine interest have gripped Germany these days. But it used to be different. It used to be that no-one cared about the Confederations Cup and no one wanted to play in it, least of all us.

Six years ago, in fact, the damn thing started as a national annoyance, evolved into a national disgrace and was subsequently seen as a national disaster. And it was all because of the French, as Germany weren't at all meant to participate in the tournament, which had only one slot reserved for a European side.

Of course that belonged to France, the reigning World Cup holders. But France, like anyone else, could do nicely without this Confound Cup, sorry, Confed Cup and started to look for a loophole.

The 1999 tournament had originally been scheduled for January, which presented France with their chance to take French leave. Their FA explained that many players from the national team were under contract to foreign clubs and would have matches during that period.

Probably to France's horror, this flimsy excuse was taken so seriously that the whole Cup was postponed and rescheduled for late July and early August.

Getting out of this new jam posed a challenge to which the French rose admirably. They now pointed out that some other players from the national team were actually based in their home country, whose domestic season would kick off on the first weekend in August. Ergo: excuse moi.

France could afford to cross FIFA in such bold manner in 1999, because they'd already had their World Cup and weren't expecting to have to lobby for another tournament anytime soon.

Also, they had this neighbour who was on a worldwide goodwill mission and also happened to field a team that was the incumbent champion of Europe.

When FIFA thus approached the German FA with the offer of replacing the French, they were met with a forced false smile and a croaking 'What an honour! Of course we'd be delighted to send our well-rested players to ... er, where is it again that the competition is being held?' It was Mexico.

Of course Germany could have bowed out on a pretense as well. Sepp Blatter's pet project clashed with two clubs' Intertoto matches and six other teams were to play in the traditional pre-season tournament known as the German Supercup, scheduled for July 10 to July 17.

But you couldn't very well prowl FIFA's corridors of power hoping to be awarded the 2006 World Cup and at the same time boycott an official tournament. Not even one that used to be known as the King Fahd Trophy and used to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

So we agreed to come and play. Make no mistake, we weren't subtle in expressing our feelings about this tournament. Egidius Braun, then the president of the German FA, called the national team's participation 'the greatest sacrifice German football has ever made'.

I think you may remember what happened next. National coach Erich Ribbeck took an emergency squad to Mexico that included Mustafa Dogan, Ronald Maul, Dariusz Wosz, Olaf Marschall, Michael Preetz, Heiko Gerber and Horst Heldt.

“ Jürgen Klinsmann has drummed it into his players, the FA and the whole of the country that the Confederations Cup is a fantastic and important tournament. ”

He also promised the big clubs, who only had to send three stars each, that he would not mess with the players' pre-season training regimen.

Then Germany lost 4-0 against Brazil (without Ronaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Rivaldo.), our biggest international defeat in 45 years.

This was followed by an ugly 2-0 win over New Zealand and another loss, 2-0 against a United States team that included fringe players like Matt McKeon, Paul Bravo, Ben Olsen and Richie Williams.

'This tournament is basically a waste of time,' Ribbeck sighed. And we all vowed: never again.

But, in the words of S. E. Hinton, that was then, this is now.

National coach Jürgen Klinsmann has drummed it into his players, the FA and the whole of the country that the Confederations Cup is a fantastic and important tournament. And you know what? He is right.

A year ago I was pestering you with my whining about how we were missing a golden opportunity like Euro 2004 to test the squad that would contest the World Cup, complaining nobody seemed to realise we had no more competitive matches until the start of the World Cup.

Like everyone else, I had forgotten about the Confed Cup.

Oh sure, the other teams won't be taking it too seriously. Mexico, for instance, will do without five regulars because their club, Chivas from Guadalajara, is still active in the Copa Libertadores.

But - like the World Cup - the Confed Cup is still a tournament that will be covered extensively, full of opponents you don't really know.

Klinsmann has also taken his own steps to make sure it will come as close to next year's real thing as possible. Despite the presense of Argentina and Brazil, despite the fact his squad is under-strength, he's announced Germany are among the favourites to win.

He's also dragging his players from one mass press conference to the next and has allowed a German filmmaker to follow the team next to everywhere.

'We have to learn how to cope with high expectations', he says. 'Next year there will be more pressure on the players than they have ever known. And we have to be prepared for that.'

Think what you will about Klinsmann, but for the first time in some fifteen years, there actually seems to be a medium-term plan and some thinking behind what the national team does.

It may be too late, but the fact that Klinsmann has managed to convince the team and the country that this Confederations Cup is a terrific thing is enough to have us hope he can pull off even more unlikely feats.

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