Confederations Cup Diary

Last updated : 14 June 2013 By Little Boy Blue
The Confederations Cup has always been one of those meaningless competitions which saturate an already congested football calendar, an expensive jolly for FIFA fat cats and self-important journos. Players treat the games as little more than glorified friendlies, although national team coaches welcome the opportunity of an extended period to work with their squads, while club managers worry about the possibility of their top stars picking up injuries when they would much rather their men enjoyed a bit of a break from football to recharge the batteries for the season ahead.
But this time around I'm mighty glad to have some fitba to divert my attention away from the manipulation and backstabbing which has clearly become Scottish football's summer activity of choice. Last year it was lets-stick-the-boot-into-Rangers time and now we've had to endure the great reconstruction debate, a so-called 'great opportunity' to give Scottish football a much-needed shot in the arm when the truth is that the SPL was a busted flush, without a TV deal or a sponsor, haemorrhaging cash left, right and centre, bullying smaller clubs into accepting an SPL/SFL merger which was little more than a cynical takeover.
The rewards, bribes even, for capitulating to the corrupt cabal will become clearer as the close-season drags on but I'm sure I'm not the only one who doubts the new body's ability to deliver on their promises. Rhegan, Dumbcaster and Lieswell have secured greater access to the Rangers pound, for now at least, but when the SFL clubs finally realise that they've bought into a web of empty promises, don't bet against the whole reconstruction pantomime kicking off again in the not too distant future.
The deed has been done, yet again the Rangers are helpless as the bitter and twisted ones get their own way, without the slightest thought for the 'greater good of Scottish football'. Self-preservation has been the name of the game, the SPL was well and truly fecked without the country's biggest and most successful club but the self-same jokers who brought about such a dire state of affairs are still calling the shots. When it all goes tits-up again, as it surely will, they and they alone will be responsible, they cannot point the finger of blame in the direction of Ibrox.
For the next couple of weeks, however, I'll be giving Scottish football a body-swerve, my mind will be on events in Brazil, hoping against hope that the eight competing nations serve up something special to restore my faith in the beautiful game at a time when the ducking and diving of all the usual suspects makes me despair for the future of football in this silly wee backwater we call home.
At first glance, some top class nations are in Brazil and all the ingredients are there for a fantastic feast if football. The host nation are always worth watching and kicking off against Asian champions Japan on Saturday, with Italy and Mexico going head to head on Sunday, could get things off to an interesting start. While Brazil will feel duty-bound to put on a bit of a show for their fans, I'm not sure the others will be too inclined to show their hand just a year before the World Cup starts in earnest. But it will be a big surprise if Brazil and Italy don't qualify from this group.
Similarly, with Spain and Uruguay facing each other on Sunday and Nigeria meeting Tahiti on Monday, it will be intriguing to measure the readiness of the defending world champions and their South American rivals. Nigeria are certainly capable of striking a blow for Africa but I'm afraid I just can't take Tahiti seriously. Spain and Uruguay will surely complete a predictable semi-final line-up and, hopefully, things will then get really mouth-watering.
This will be the ninth Confederations Cup competition. Initially, it was known as the King Fahd Cup and was staged in Saudi Arabia as a vehicle to promote Saudi football. Argentina were the inaugural winners in 1992 when they beat the host nation 3-1 in the final and three years later it was Denmark, including Rangers' star Brian Laudrup, who triumphed with a 2-0 victory over the Argies.
The competition had been so successful that FIFA stepped in, rechristened it the Confederations Cup and took control of the 1997 event which was also staged in Saudi Arabia. With Romario and Ronaldo outstanding, Brazil were the stars of the show and they romped to a 6-0 victory over Australia in the final.
Mexico hosted the 1999 tournament and were worthy winners, beating Brazil 4-3 in a thrilling final. Leading 2-0 midway through the first half, the Mexicans were shocked when goals within a few minutes of each other on either side of the half-time break levelled the scores but the hosts responded, restored their two goal advantage before Brazil pegged them back to 4-3 with around half-an-hour still to play. It was nail-biting stuff for the 110,000 crowd at the Aztec Stadium but the home side held out to add their name to the roll of honour.
Seeing the event as a dummy run for the World Cup, the 2001 Confederations Cup was staged in South Korea and Japan where a Patrick Vieira goal gave France a 1-0 win over Japan and two years later the French successfully defended the trophy as hosts when a Thiery Henry strike in extra-time was enough to beat Cameroon.
Germany staged the 2005 tournament in which Brazil triumphed with a comprehensive 4-1 final victory over Argentina and they held on to their crown in South Africa four years later when, after falling 2-0 behind to the USA, a double from Luis Fabiano and a late Lucio header clinched a 3-2 win.
It would take a brave man to bet against Brazil making it three-in-a-row when the Maracana stages the final on June 30 but lets hope we see some top quality fitba as the tournament progresses, if only to keep my mind off the dodgy dealings which are sure to unfold as those running Scottish football once more pay no heed to the warnings to be careful about what they wish for.
A Brazil win and Hearts going into administration sounds like a good money-making double. . .and despite this week's much-hyped Hampden vote, there may well be another casualty or two in Scotland (Dunfermline/Kilmarnock?) before the Confederations Cup circus leaves Brazil at the end of the month.