Global fans gripped by it, Europe shuns it

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Mar­rakech, Morocco

While Bay­ern Mu­nich con­tin­ued Europe’s re­cent dom­i­nance at the Club World Cup, it is un­clear whether the cham­pion’s home con­ti­nent took no­tice. Bay­ern capped 2013 with its fifth tro­phy on Satur­day, beat­ing sur­prise side Raja Casablanca of Morocco 2-0 in Satur­day’s anti-cli­mac­tic fi­nal.

For Bay­ern, the tri­umph at the tour­na­ment of con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­ons capped a record year.

For Raja, a vic­tory would have pro­vided the host na­tion with its great­est soc­cer tro­phy, just days af­ter the team had se­cured its finest in­ter­na­tional vic­tory by elim­i­nat­ing Atletico Mineiro of Brazil.

Atletico was en­cour­aged by more than 10,000 trav­el­ing sup­port­ers as it fin­ished third in the com­pe­ti­tion af­ter beat­ing Asian cham­pion Guangzhou Ever­grande of China 3-2.

While Europe has dom­i­nated the com­pe­ti­tion — win­ning six of the past seven CWCs — the ti­tle of world’s best team seems to be revered around the world while re­main­ing a sideshow to do­mes­tic 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 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 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 cham­pion 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 un­der­stood 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. I don’t know whether I will be back here, so this is a spe­cial mo­ment.”

But across the Strait of Gi­bral­tar, back in his na­tive Spain, Atletico Madrid’s pur­suit of the Span­ish league ti­tle drew more 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.

The lo­cal or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee failed to op­er­ate proper shut­tles for fans and did a poor job pro­tect­ing ticket-buy­ers as up to 2,000 fans gate­crashed Bay­ern’s semi­fi­nal at Agadir.

The tour­na­ment re­turns to Morocco next year. Whether Euro­pean fans do re­mains to be seen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.