With the eyes of literally some of the footballing world on Brazil many are questioning the usefulness of the Confederations Cup. At the end of what we never tire of hearing about is a long season (for most of the players involved) few, outside of those countries involved, take much interest in a tournament of overblown friendlies involving bigger mismatches even than the bloated World Cup itself.
Various platitudes are usually forthcoming defending the Confederations Cup’s honour normally including that it’s a good dress rehearsal for the main competition next year. Undoubtedly true for whoever owns the companies supplying the stewards for the World Cup (I’d hazard a guess at it being FIFA) but it only really highlights the readiness – or otherwise – of the venues, transport and general infrastructure. This is usually highlighted with glee by the tabloids in a vain attempt to take the high moral ground and look down on ‘foreigners’ for their lack of organisation. This is then conveniently forgotten by the time the big kick off comes round when everything is perfectly ready and raring to go.
But the thing that most people don’t realise is that the real usefulness of the tournament is that our presenters and ‘experts’ can practice their inability to pronounce vaguely non-English names, show an outstanding lack of knowledge about world class players who have the misfortune of not having a link to the ‘greatest league in the world’ or don’t play for Barcelona, and generally belittle any player from a small nation.
The presenters we get for the Confeds (yeah, that’s what I’m going to call it. Cool eh?) are not always our usual Saturday night favourites either. Gary Lineker, Alan Hansen and co are far too busy squeezing in valuable chummy golf time to worry about concentrating fully on a world football competition. And they’re already masters in the banal football analysis game anyway. Instead we’re treated to the likes of Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman, Danny ‘Millsy’ Mills and Robbie ‘er, Robbie’ Savage who only usually get airtime on the BBC’s Red Button Final Score when everyone is watching Jeff and the boys on Sky. These are exactly the people who need the practice at laughing at their inability to pronounce Tahitian names and not being able to recognise players who have won major honours in Europe.
So you can see that the Confeds (see, you’re liking it now aren’t you?) is not just something for BBC 3 to fill up some summer schedule time but a real training ground for our sporting televisual icons. And to be honest, it’s either that or Come Dine With Me marathons on Channel 4. It’s your choice.
Dan Roberts (@LasVegasWI)