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Brazil’s Corinthians capture FIFA Club World Cup. You know what that is, right?

Dec 16, 2012, 10:44 AM EDT


Congratulations to Corinthians, first the champions of South America and now the holders of FIFA’s Club World Cup.

The Brazilian club claimed the trophy in the wee smalls, beating Chelsea in the tournament final from Japan in a match that finished well before most of America awoke on a sleepy Sunday morning.

In bettering Chelsea, 1-0, Corinthians demonstrated that they wanted this thing a little more. That’s hardly surprising; it’s a bigger deal in some parts of the world than in others. In Europe, FIFA’s Club World Cup holds little regard and, if we’re honest, even less brand value.

For South American teams it’s a chance to “play with the big boys,” to remind everyone that Europe may be where the money is in the global game, but they play some pretty decent soccer in South America, too, of course.

Sometimes, “want-to” isn’t enough, as with last year when Barcelona FC did to Santos what they do to so many – flummox the hapless and helpless foe with that wonderful passing and interchange. They kicked Santos, 4-0.

So while Sunday’s result may have provided a certain measure of revenge and re-validation, you do have to wonder about Chelsea’s motivation.

To that point, how to make the tournament a little bigger? How to make it something more of the world cares about and wants to check out?

First, it’s still fairly young, competed for on an annual basis only since 2005. History count for a lot, and this event does not have much.

Past that, they’ll need to move the even around a little more. Since it became an annual event, every tournament has been in Japan or United Arab Emirates. FIFA does have plans to add more sites to the rotation in the future. Expose an area to one tournament and they have a much better chance of connecting with it – and therefore caring enough to scan for the next one.

So diversifying the geography is a good thing; otherwise the FIFA Club World Cup will continue to come and go with barely a worldwide whisper.

  1. futbolhistorian - Dec 16, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    The tournament has been played 51 times. a European team has won it 26 times, a South American team 25. I do find it interesting, though, that so often when the European team loses in the final, we hear the “you have to wonder about their motivation” talk. You know, sometimes the South American team was pretty darn good, and was just simply better than the European team. It happens.

    • joeyt360 - Dec 16, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      Post-Bosman, the players follow the paychecks nearly all the time, and nearly all the time, the paycheck is in Europe. You go up and down the roster any time a match like this is played, and the European club is often better–often the best South American player in the game is playing for the European club. That’s just the way it is, which is why any time the European club loses, people will talk about motivation.

      In order to make the tournament better, honestly, at the present time I would consider involving two European teams in it.

    • marcdaarg - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:56 AM

      “For South American teams it’s a chance to “play with the big boys,” to remind everyone that Europe may be where the money is in the global game, but they play some pretty decent soccer in South America, too, of course.”


      Yeah, Brazil has only 5 WORLD CUP titles (world record). England has 1, France has 1, Germany has 3.
      Yeah, I guess they play “pretty decent soccer” in South America. LOL!

      Obama, please forbid American from talking about football! PLEASE! We need some new legislation concerning this.

      • joeyt360 - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:15 PM

        Before calling someone else stupid, you might want to learn the difference between club football and international football.

        Man, this thread has attracted a lot of fragile egos that need a cookie!

      • marcdaarg - Dec 20, 2012 at 3:26 AM

        Joey, why would my ego be hurt if I’m not even South American? Yes, you tell me! Maybe I’m disturbed with this article because i’ve been following football for ages and I DO KNOW that South American clubs (like their national teams) have been winning matches against European clubs (and European national teams) very very often?
        Check the stats from the International Cup, Club World Cup and the World Cup if you don’t believe me.

        “Maybe they have pretty decent soccer in South America.” Yes, maybe they do, and maybe that’s why all major European clubs have South American players playing for them (Messi, anyone?).

        The guy who wrote this artcle seems puzzled that a European club has lost the CWC this year, but completely ignores that this was not even remotely the first time and won’t be the last.

        I wish my country had a “decent soccer” like the one they play in South America. MAYBE this way we could win something.

  2. profootballcaulk - Dec 16, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    Steve,, you’re a good guy so I’m gonna post this because you like the calm debate. Your title and article sound to me like ‘loser’s lament’. If Chelsea had prevailed you may have written they outclassed their SA rivals, coringao were outta their league, etc… I will admit that timao wanted it more as evidenced by the plethora of their torcida, Banda de Loucos, o fiel all arriving in Japan. The building my mom lives in, in Sao Paulo, literally shook with excitement after the goal. Her parking lot had a car fire presumably from errant fireworks. I hope not from a SPFC sticker in the window but that is a whole other story.

    I will go so far as to say they were the better side on the pitch this morning. In 10 games I think that Chelsea would have the upper hand but this 2012 edition of Corinthians would not be embarrassed just look at today’s results for any questions. The team is not so much of a sum of its parts as it is a well balanced, well defending team with Cassio being the man of the match. I further think if it was not for the Libertadores that they would have repeated as series A champs but that is only speculation. You know who could be patted on the back for this team? I would say Mano Menezes had a large part in constructing the current roster in no small way.

    Yes I watch the Brasilerao! Ha ha
    Thanks for the great site!

  3. thenoahcd - Dec 16, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Reporting a supposed lack of motivation on the part of Chelsea is lazy, and represents a Euro-centric view of world football. Just because a team is way wealthier (Chelsea’s yearly payroll rivals Corinthians’ *total franchise value*) doesn’t make it the better team. It’s not like Chelsea sent their second tier players. They obviously wanted to win, and many of them cried at the finish. You can’t seriously believe that an international club trophy is unimportant to the club, coaches, and players.

    I believe you’ve missed the two real stories here:
    Firstly, this final should generate a conversation about the style of play that we saw on the pitch. While many of the great European clubs mount more deliberate attacks and boast the best strikers in the world, the counter-attacking focus of Corinthians proved more effective, just as it did in their winning (invictus) campaign in the Copa Libertadores.

    Secondly, the tournament should expand, and FIFA should publicize it better. This final shows that the competition from South America is up to the challenge posed by the better paid European teams. FIFA would do well to quadruple the number of teams, reserve places for African, Asian, and North American teams, and in so doing improve the tournament and use it to increase the popularity of the game in places like China and the USA (whose leagues and talent pools both have great potential if the game picks up more fans in both countries).

  4. charliej11 - Dec 16, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    I am becoming a fan of this site until this.article…Chelasea didn’t want to win the CWC ? Do their fans know this ?

    Just stupid everytime an English team gets outplayed the US media reports they didn’t care..whether is is a MLS exhibition game or the championship of the world..they seem to have a lot of apathy. I am starting to wonder why apathy is an exceptable excuse…isn’t part of being a Champion caring more than the other guy, wanting it more ?

    Corinthians were the better team, if you want to think was apathy……..go for it….you are wrong.

  5. donjuego - Dec 17, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    Count me as one who follows this tournament every year. I don’t understand at all this call for changes. It is actually quite wonderfully pure. Six regional champions. A bracket to a world champion. Wow. Why do we need more? Why do we need non-champions. Why would we want a world champion that is not a regional champion? I don’t get it. Maybe what we really need to do is just all appreciate it and recognize it for the glorious world championship that it is.

    I have to agree with others that the whole “lack of motivation” angle is thin and lacking substance. It is often the easy journalistic angle in sports to talk about “wanting it more” and “desire” when in fact both team wanted to win completely. You can only have one winner even when both teams want it. Watching the game Chelsea looked plenty motivated. Corinthians played wonderfully. Either team could have won, Chelsea had their chances, but failed to put them away.

  6. pmacd82 - Dec 17, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Put the tournament in the U.S. where Mexican, European, MLS, and South American fans will fill soccer specific stadiums and then you’ll see the tourney take off.

    • profootballcaulk - Dec 17, 2012 at 7:43 AM

      You know this actually makes sense geographically but I would be nervous, if I was the powers-that-be, that a lot of empty seats would sour the idea. It is too often in japan and all 4 US televised games were nearly half empty from the camera angles I could see with the consolation game nearly void of fans.

      If the venue were to be a soccer-specific locale then a packed house of ~25,0000 may actually look good to a television audience.

      If it was poorly attended then we would hear the same old USA just ain’t ready for the sport.

  7. joeyt360 - Dec 17, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    I know, as an American, how frustrating it can be to feel as though you have not had your on-field exploits recognized.

    But. . . yeah, Chelsea doesn’t care about this result as Corinthians does. Their fans don’t care as much, the organization doesn’t, the players on the field don’t.

    I also know, as an American, that calling Steve Davis Eurocentric is a laugh riot.

    • charliej11 - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      How do you know that the Chelsea players/organization don’t care as much ? They were trying to win.

      Because they didn’t win ?

      • joeyt360 - Dec 18, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        Because they have every reason not to? It has no real history to Chelsea, it doesn’t drive revenues, most of Chelsea’s fans don’t see it, etc etc etc. It clearly takes a back seat to both domestic league and UCL results, and you run into the problem where it’s awfully hard to prioritize everything.

        Barcelona slaughtered their opposition last year, and did not win either the Champions League or the Spanish League. I can assure you they wouldn’t stop to think for two seconds about trading trophies.

      • charliej11 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        Thanks for assuring me.

        I rest assured that after they don’t win, THEN they didn’t care….

      • joeyt360 - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

        Even when they do win, no European club remembers who won the CWC five years later.

      • charliej11 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:50 PM


      • charliej11 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:57 PM

        Wait are you lying to me because I don’t follow the Euro leagues much?

        I just went to Man Us website.
        On the first page of Man Us history page, the first thing they mention is the Club World Cup in the last decade. THE FIRST THING !

      • joeyt360 - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM

        Oh, good lord, because the PR department is where you go to find out what’s really significant.

      • joeyt360 - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        (Btw, that’s because it’s in reverse chronological order, decade by decade, and not counting this one.)

  8. futbolhistorian - Dec 17, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Who called Steve Eurocentric?

    • joeyt360 - Dec 18, 2012 at 4:31 PM

      thenoahcd – Dec 16, 2012 at 6:33 PM

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