Friday, May 29, 2009

So What's the Confederations Cup All About?

The FIFA Confederations Map. Isn't it pretty?

The Confederations Cup kicks off on Sunday, June 14th with a 16:00 (umm, that's probably S. Africa time, not EST) match between South Africa and Iraq at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. But who are the countries involved, how did they get there, and what the heck is this thing all about?

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.


EbullientFatalist said...

If New Zealand plays Iraq, there will be a negative Nielsen rating.

The NY Kid said...

Saturday, June 20th at 20:30.

Set the TIVO!

Ibracadabra said...

FSC? ESPN? Setanta?

Who has the rights?

JT said...

Ibra -- it's all on ESPN. I believe there will be UF liveblogs as much as possible throughout the tournament.

Nathaniel said...

I am still sputtering in disbelief that ESPN/ESPN2 are carrying all the games of the Confederations Cup.


hockalees said...

Wow... hard to believe that there is a "Group of Death" in an 8 team competition, but Spain has easy work if it in the early rounds, eh?

Group A
South Africa
New Zealand ("Present")

Group B

WhiteSpeedReceiver said...

If Spain and South Africa remain tied after regulation and A.E.T., they'll immediately go to an improv contest to see who can be the most racist to determine a winner.

Mike Georger said...

Will there be any Jagerminz S'more-flavored Schnapps, the schnapps with the delightful taste of s'mores?

Ian said...

Depending on how seriously Italy and Brazil take this thing, I would be surprised if the US manages to win a single game.

Craig said...

I would assume that the rights for this tournament are packaged with the rights to the World Cup.