Con­fed Cup shows Russia ready to host World Cup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Ger­many’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup-win­ning coach Joachim Loew and FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino have led the calls for giv­ing Russia the seal of ap­proval to host next year’s World Cup. Lars Stindl’s first-half goal in Sun­day’s fi­nal sealed Ger­many’s 1-0 win over Chile, bring­ing down the cur­tain on the 2017 Con­fed Cup-a warm-up for next year’s World Cup fi­nals.

This could be the last Con­fed Cup in it’s cur­rent for­mat-In­fantino has said the com­pe­ti­tion is un­der re­view-but the fort­night­long tour­na­ment proved Russia can host a World Cup.

With less than a year to go be­fore the World Cup starts on June 14 2018, fears racism and hooli­gan­ism would blight the Con­fed Cup proved un­founded. “We had been hear­ing be­fore this tour­na­ment about a lot of ‘prob­lems’ we would ex­pe­ri­ence here,” said In­fantino.

“If a prob­lem­atic tour­na­ment looks like this one, well, I want to have many prob­lem­atic tour­na­ments go­ing for­ward,” he quipped. Ger­many’s head coach Loew warmly praised the hosts af­ter his in­ex­pe­ri­enced squad, mi­nus their World Cup win­ning stars, came of age to beat Chile. “Many thanks to Russia - you have been great hosts in the dif­fer­ent cities where we have played,” said Loew.

“We have seen ex­cel­lent con­di­tions at the sta­di­ums, this has been bril­liantly or­gan­ised and we’ve met some out­stand­ing peo­ple along the way.” The 16 matches passed off with­out in­ci­dent off the field and the main talk­ing points were the con­tro­ver­sial test­ing of the video as­sis­tant ref­eree (VAR) and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo’s per­for­mances for Por­tu­gal. The Real Madrid su­per­star pro­duced three man-of-the­match per­for­mances, but left the tour­na­ment when Por­tu­gal lost their semi-fi­nal to Chile-jet­ting off to be with his new-born twins rather than help beat Mex­ico in the third-place play-off.

The VAR re­ceived a mixed re­cep­tion, but In­fantino has de­scribed it as “the fu­ture of foot­ball”. In­fantino ad­mits the sys­tem needs re­fin­ing and FIFA will de­cide whether to use it at next year’s World Cup. The sys­tem largely re­moved bla­tant ref­er­ee­ing mis­takes, but led to some dis­rup­tions dur­ing matches.

“The VAR is a very pos­i­tive tool for the sport as it helps ref­er­ees avoid com­mit­ting mis­takes,” said leg­endary for­mer ref Pier­luigi Col­lina, now chair­man of FIFA’s Ref­er­ees Com­mit­tee.

“We are aware we can im­prove, but it would be very sur­pris­ing af­ter so few matches if it was per­fect.”

The sys­tem is not er­ror-free-af­ter Chile’s Gon­zalo Jara el­bowed the Con­fed Cup’s top-scorer Timo Werner in the face dur­ing the fi­nal-a scene re­viewed by the VAR-Jara was only booked.

Off the pitch, al­le­ga­tions of dop­ing in Rus­sian foot­ball again emerged dur­ing the tour­na­ment, but the lo­cal or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee (LOC) said they have shown Russia is ready. “For Rus­sian foot­ball, this tour­na­ment has been un­prece­dented in many ways,” said LOC boss Alexey Sorokin.

“It has al­lowed us to watch beau­ti­ful foot­ball and dis­pel many con­cerns peo­ple may have had about large-scale events here.” Se­cu­rity was ex­tremely high at all four venues in Moscow, St Peters­burg, Kazan and Sochi-seven more will be added for next year’s World Cup.

To en­ter the sta­di­ums and fan zone, fans had to pass safety checks, in­clud­ing bags be­ing x-rayed and the use of metal de­tec­tors, typ­i­cal of those found at air­ports. There was an ex­tra layer of se­cu­rity as sup­port­ers had to reg­is­ter their de­tails and present a FAN ID, bear­ing their pic­ture, with a match ticket to be al­lowed into the sta­di­ums. Given the tra­di­tion of Rus­sian sup­port­ers com­ing to games late, there were re­ports of some Fan ID cen­tres at venues be­ing over­whelmed just be­fore kick-off.—AFP

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