Global fans gripped to Club WCup, Europe shuns it
While Bayern Munich continued Europe’s recent dominance at the
Club World Cup, it’s unclear whether the champion’s home continent
Bayern capped 2013 with its fifth trophy on Saturday, beating
surprise host Raja Casablanca of Morocco 2-0 in Saturday’s
For Bayern, the triumph at the tournament of continental
champions was almost straightforward to cap a record year with the
title of the world’s best club.
For Raja, a victory could have provided the host nation with its
greatest football trophy, just days after the team had secured its
greatest international victory by eliminating Copa Libertadores
champion Atletico Mineiro of Brazil.
Atletico, guided by the charismatic Ronaldinho, was encouraged
by over 10,000 traveling supporters as it finished third in the
competition after beating Asian champion Guangzhou Evergrande of
A few thousand Bayern fans made the hours-long trip to north
While Europe has dominated the competition – winning six of the
last seven Club World Cups – the title of world’s best team seems
to be revered around the world while remaining a sideshow to
domestic league play on the continent.
”I could understand that when we play this competition in the
past years in Japan or the United Arab Emirates that there was less
interest from Europe. We are disappointed that there is not so much
interest now when we are at the door of Europe,” FIFA president
Sepp Blatter said.
”I think there should be a little more attention to the
competition. Here we have seen really good football – this is the
best publicity. It’s also a question of solidarity, there should be
interest from other clubs and leagues to see what the other
continents are doing.”
Bayern, which has waxed on about the importance of the
competition all week, ultimately delivered.
But will that change perceptions, especially after such a
straightforward victory at a tournament where the gulf between the
German champions and the rest of the world was significant?
”People say it’s not important to the Europeans. I don’t
know,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. ”We have indeed
understood that this is a unique opportunity for us to win this
title, to win this final we know we have teams who have won other
(continental) titles so we knew it would be difficult. And we did
not know if we will come back here in the future. I don’t know
whether I will be back here, so this is a special moment.”
Guardiola had initially opened his arrival by saying victory
here was ”not special” since he was carrying out the work of Jupp
Heynckes, who he replaced as coach in the summer. Guardiola has now
won the competition three times, and his first triumph with
Barcelona in Abu Dhabi four years ago reduced him to tears.
But across the Strait of Gibraltar back in his native Spain,
Atletico Madrid’s continued pursuit of Spanish league was what drew
interest. Bayern’s victory was shown live in Germany only because
it had reached the final.
Reports emerging from Morocco may have also turned some
Europeans off altogether.
The local organizing committee failed to operate proper shuttles
for fans and did a poor job of protecting ticket-buyers as up to
2,000 fans gatecrashed Bayern’s semifinal at Agadir where tickets
cost up to 895 Moroccan Dirham (80 euros).
”Of course there are bad habits that exist (…) and people try
to take advantage,” event director Karim Alem said. ”We need the
game to be festive and not have negative points.”
Fans from the other continental champions – Monterrey of Mexico,
Al-Ahly of Egypt, and Auckland City of New Zealand – may have been
surprised to hear Moroccans jeer Nelson Mandela as the late South
African president was honored at stadiums. Mandela had shown
solidarity for the plight of Western Sahara, the former Spanish
colony which was annexed by Morocco.
”It is happening and there is nothing we can do,” said FIFA
secretary general Jerome Valcke, who is also South African.
The tournament returns to Morocco in 2014. Whether European fans
do is to be seen.
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