Global fans gripped by it, Europe shuns it
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.