ZURICH (Reuters) – The Club World Cup is billed by FIFA as “biggest club title of all” yet this month’s tournament in Morocco is more likely to serve as a reminder of the chasm that separates domestic football in Europe from the rest of the world.
It is difficult to envisage anything other than a win for Real Madrid in the tournament which, bizarrely, has been thrown under a cloud by players at Asian champions Western Sydney Wanderers threatening a boycott over a pay dispute.
There is a logic to FIFA’s claim as the contest brings together the champion club sides from each continent, plus the domestic title holders of the hosts.
But the reality modern football, where the world’s top players are concentrated in Europe, is very different.
While European champions Real Madrid will be brimming with cherry-picked world class talent, the likes of Argentina’s San Lorenzo, Mexico’s Cruz Azul and Algeria’s ES Setif struggle to muster half a dozen regular internationals between them.
The talent drain to Europe means that the top South Americans and Africans play against, rather than for, the teams from their continent.
Teams from South America and Africa are generally made up of players who have not been good enough to earn a move to Europe, plus a few who have been abroad and have returned.
In the wake of the World Cup, a tournament featuring teams from Argentina, Mexico and Algeria, who all reached the knockout stages, should give plenty for Real Madrid to think about.