Blatter: "The Club World Championship holds promise for the future"
FIFA Magazine: Why did FIFA introduce the Club World Championship at a time when there are already so many matches in the calendar?
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter: The idea of a Club World Championship was presented to the Executive Committee in December 1993 in Las Vegas. Every December there is the Toyota Cup in Tokyo, the duel between the two top teams from Europe and South America, but the Toyota Cup dates back to the days when Europe and South America led the rest of the World by a considerable distance. Today there are strong club teams in every continent and so there is a need for a Club World Championship, and the basic decision to organise such a competition was taken by the FIFA Executive Committee in 1996. As the international calendar becomes better co-ordinated and more harmonised, the situation that we have at the present should ease considerably and the criticism should diminish.
Which countries expressed interest in hosting the tournament and why did FIFA finally decide in favour of Brazil?
Initially there were nine candidates: Turkey, USA, Tahiti, China, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay, but only the last four of these confirmed their interest. On the grounds of the documentation submitted, FIFA chose Brazil to host the competition.
What do you personally see as the advantages of this tournament?
Firstly we should be able to watch some attractive football. Secondly, club football is new territory for FIFA to a certain extent, and I believe that the closer contact with these clubs will bring us experience that will be useful for the future.
Some of the critics are saying that a match like Al-Nassr versus South Melbourne SC will not be of much interest to European football fans. Would you agree with them?
What is so dramatic about European fans not being very interested in Al-Nassr versus South Melbourne SC? The important thing here is that the game is of interest to fans in Asia and Oceania. The point of a world championship is that it includes teams from all over the world and is for spectators all over the world.
Do you expect the Club World Champion-ship to draw a lot of TV viewers on a world-wide basis?
I think so. In many countries, this time of year sees a break from football and so the Club World Championship should prove attractive for those fans.
When will the next Club World Champion-ship take place?
That has not yet been decided. For the moment, we will wait and see how this first one turns out.
How do you rate the chances of this competition being a success in the future?
I give it a good chance. Back in 1930 the FIFA World Cup went through a difficult starting phase, but today it is unchallenged as the world's foremost sporting event.