Last updated on July 20th, 2022
Club World Cup, a competition to determine the best club in the world. The winners of continental competitions around the world will face each for the coveted world title.
Held in the middle of the season upon international break, the Club World Cup does have its charm. However, the event was less anticipated by football fans and received mixed opinions from players and clubs.
As the inaugural competition continues each year, questions are asked on the significance of the trophy.
Here is what you need to know about the Club World Cup:
Can the Club World Cup be considered a major trophy?
Alongside all domestic league titles, domestic cup, and continental cup, the Club World Club is an event officially held under FIFA. Regardless of each player and club’s perspective on the cup itself, it does make the Club World Cup one of the major trophies in world football.
Why is the Club World Cup considered a major trophy?
Here are some reasons why the Club World Cup can be considered to be a major trophy.
#1 It determines the best club in the world
Just like the UEFA Champions League, AFC Champions League, and Copa Libertadores determine the best club in each continent, the Club World Cup is the only official competition that gives a club the right to be number one in the world.
#2 The route to qualification
The Club World Club may not be the most anticipated event in world football, but it takes a lot for a club in any continent to qualify for the competition.
Before dreaming of a Club World Cup, each club has to qualify by winning the continental cup held in their respective continents. While a spot in the continental cup is often a guarantee for titans such as Real Madrid and Manchester City, qualifying for the continental club is a major challenge in itself.
Palmeiras winning Copa Libertadores, qualifying for the Club World Cup 2021 semi-finals
The winners of the UEFA Champions League and the South American Copa Libertadores are guaranteed a spot directly in the semi-finals of the Club World Cup. However, clubs from other continents have to pass 4 gruelling stages to win the whole competition.
Why isn’t the Club World Cup considered a major trophy?
However, there are also arguments as to why the Club World Cup is not considered to be a major trophy:
#1 Level of competition
Here are the Club World Cup champions in the last 5 years:
The Club World Cup has been held 18 times since 2000. 14 of them are won by European clubs and the other 4 are won by Brazilian clubs.
One of the premises of the Club World Cup was to match up footballing talents from around the world. Unfortunately, there is a clear skill gap when it comes to players from Europe and South America to the rest of the world.
You can find out more about how European and South American football differs here.
A common strategy used by European clubs is to deploy their second-best line-up, saving their best players for more important competitions.
A fine example would be how Liverpool beat a solid Monterrey side 2-1 without key players including Fabinho, Van Dijk, Mane, Lovren, and Matip.
This does not reflect well on the competition as European clubs are still able to dominate without their full strength.
The Club World Cup is held annually in December or February. There are several reasons why those 2 months may not be the best time to hold an international cup, as it is scheduled during a mid-season international break.
Clubs that qualify for the Club World Cup are strong in their respective countries. December and February is a crucial part of the season when these clubs are fighting for domestic leagues, domestic cups, and continental cups (UEFA, AFC, Copa Libertadores).
Thus, the Club World Cup may not come as a priority for participating clubs, especially for European sides.
Prizes for winning
Here’s how the prize money of the Club World Cup compares with the other continental competitions:
|Club World Cup||$5 million|
|UEFA Champions League||$23.2 million|
|AFC Champions League||$4 million|
|Copa Libertadores||$12 million|
It has to be noted that a club competing in every competition makes more than just their winning prize. They are paid for each game that they play. Thus, they earn more money as they advance through the competition.
For example, Bayern Munich managed to gather close to $140 million USD from their 2020 Champions League campaign. With a prize money of just USD 5 million, the Club World Cup is significantly less attractive for European and even South American sides.
USD 5 million may be more meaningful for non-European sides. However, it is not significantly more than what they can earn by winning domestic and continental titles.
The Club World Cup has only been won by European and South American clubs. For the others, qualifying for the final seems to be an impossible task. It is not rare for these clubs to decide to “sacrifice” their place, resting their strong squad for other competitions.
In the end, participating clubs are not displaying their strongest sides, which makes it less attractive for football fans to watch. Combined with the predictable results, it does take a toll on the significance of the Club World Cup.
How prestigious is the Club World Cup?
“We speak about that constantly. The importance is easy, we are here so it’s the most important competition in the world for us at this moment.”Jurgen Klopp
The comment was made by Jurgen Klopp ahead of Liverpool’s semi-final against Mexican side Monterrey. Klopp questioned the timing of the cup, where his team had to play twice in the middle of a competitive season.
Liverpool had to play against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on 17th December 2019, while they had to fly over to play Monterrey in Qatar 2 days later!
This led to them playing their reserve team against Aston Villa, ultimately losing 5-0.
Nevertheless, Liverpool still ended up winning the cup, and it was widely celebrated as they became the second English club to do so.
Winning the Club World Club means adding another major trophy to the cabinet. With most European clubs, it means they have won all of the major trophies possible.
On the other hand, the Club World Cup is deemed as one of the ultimate achievements for South American Clubs. Only won by 3 different clubs in Brazil, the Club World Cup has become a bragging right for supporters of Sport Club Internacional, São Paulo, and Corinthians.
The Club World Cup does not have the same appeal compared to the likes of UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores. A combination of predictable results and poor timing does take a few points off the competition.
Still, qualifying for the Club World Cup is one formidable challenge for any club in the world. Winning the trophy will solidify any club’s position as one of the best football teams in the world. For those reasons, the Club World Cup remains a prestigious major trophy in world football.
While the Club World Cup is not that popular, the World Cup where international countries pit against one another is extremely popular! You can find out more about the World Cup’s popularity in this article here.
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