Friday, May 29, 2009
The tournament was originally hosted and organized by Saudi Arabia, and was known as the King Fahd Cup. Not suprisingly, Saudi Arabia was a participant in every tournament, and extended invitations to winners of various continental tournaments. There were 2 iterations, in 1992 and 1995, after which FIFA took over the competition, formalized the rules regarding participants, and decreed that it would take place every 2 years. In 2005 FIFA realized that due to the schedule of a variety of other competitions (most notably the Olympics, the World Cup, and EURO tournaments), it would be most effective if the Confederations Cup was held every 4 years, which brings us to 2009.
Since 2005 the Confederations Cup has been held in the same country as the next World Cup, with the latter following by 1 year. This allows the WC host country to assess its readiness on a number of factors including infrastructure and safety. So, who are the national teams that get to dance at this dress rehearsal, and how did they get there? The rules of the Confederation Cup state that the 8 participants will be the winners of each of the 6 FIFA confederation championships, the reigning World Cup champion, and the host of the upcoming World Cup. There are also a host of rules for what to do when these overlap (e.g. the reigning WC champion is also hosting the next WC; the winner of 1 of the 6 confederation championships is also the reigning WC champion) - and in fact some teams have declined to participate in the Confederations Cup for a variety of reasons.
The 2009 Confederations Cup participants are:
(1) Italy - invited as the reigning World Cup champion
(2) South Africa - invited as the host of World Cup 2010
(3) Egypt - invited as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) winners, having won the African Cup of Nations
(4) Brazil - invited as the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) winners, having won the Copa America
(5) Spain - invited as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) winners, having won EURO 2008 (officially referred to as the UEFA European Football Championship)
(6) Iraq - invited as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) winners, having won the Asian Cup
(7) New Zealand - invited as the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) winners, having won the OFC Nations Cup
(8) United States - invited as the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) winners, having won the Gold Cup
With a total of $17.6 million in prize money at stake, matchups featuring USA-Italy (June 15th) and Italy-Brazil (June 21st), and the reputation of South Africa on the line, the 2009 Confederations Cup has a lot to offer.
And we'll be ready with the live-blogs.