Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Is there use in the Gold Cup?

Now that the glow of gold is starting to wear off (it has been almost 48 hours), people are starting to ask why was the Cup even played in the first place?

The main article talking about this is by Brian Trusdell, titled "Gold Cup needs work." His main argument is in the second paragraph:

"But outside North and Central America and the Caribbean, the tournament still struggles for recognition. While within the confederation, its members don't always send their best teams, using it instead to re-energize for World Cup qualifying, test new players or begin a rebuilding process."

It is a good point. What is the point of a title if it is not the best team on the field. Do we really want this tournament to be basically a bunch of friendlys with a trophy at the end of it? Would they ever do this in Europe or in South America? I think not.

That said, soccer in Concacaf is not really at the level of those two confederations. I don't mean to suggest that Concacaf does not play top quality soccer, just that it's resources are much more limited.

In the same article Trusdell points out the main reason for having a cup every couple years, money.

"'It's a total success,' Blazer said. 'It didn't start out to finance us, but now it does support all the development programs and pays for all the other competitions.'"

So there you have it. Concacaf needs this tournament in order to keep improving the players of the future. Europe or South America don't have to worry much about this because they have a lot of cash and a long tradition of development programs. Maybe in ten or twenty years, Concacaf will be at a point were they will not need to have tournaments so often to keep the money coming in, but we are not there yet. It is all about the future.

But can't we make it better some how? One suggestion out there is that the winner of the off year tournament plays the winner of the next tournament for the birth into the Confederations Cup. If the same person wins both, no need for a playoff. This is a good offering, but I'm thinking something even bigger.

Concacaf gets four entries into the World Cup. What if Concacaf puts all the chips on the table and says that the winner of the off year cup gets one of those slots. I'm guessing the best teams would be showing up to that event. I know what someone else might say, isn't such a short tournament a bad idea for deciding such an important slot. Well yes, but think of the soccer that would be played.



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