Vol. 5 Num 199 Mon. December 13, 2004  

Goodbye Toyota Cup

Football's Intercontinental Cup will become the FIFA Club World Championship from next year after 45 years of golden days, dark ages and rejuvenation in Japan.

From next year onwards, the play-off between the champions of Europe and South America will be replaced by a mini-tournament contested by the top teams from each continent.

The six confederations' champions will play a total of seven matches over an eight-day period with the European and South American teams each playing a maximum of only two matches.

The first edition will be in Tokyo from December 11-18, 2005, with annual prize money set at 15 million dollars. FIFA will bear all the costs for the teams and confederation and FIFA delegations.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said the Intercontinental Cup is outdated and needs to be replaced by a tournament which represented all footballing continents rather than just two.

"Fifty years ago it was valid to call the Intercontinental Cup the world club championship, but it is not valid to call it that anymore," Blatter said.

"You cannot be a legitimate world championship when four out of six continents do not have any representation."

The inaugural Intercontinental Cup kicked off in 1960 in a home-and-away format with Spain's Real Madrid beating Penarol of Uruguay, following the start of the UEFA Champions League in 1955 and the Libertadores Cup in 1960.

The event drew much attention with the 1962 edition between Santos FC of Brazil and AC Milan of Italy attracting a total of 350,000 spectators.

But a series of untoward incidents affected the Cup soon afterwards.

When Racing Club of Argentina played Celtic of Scotland in 1967, seven players were sent off for rough play.

In 1969 in Buenos Aires, a player was imprisoned for violent conduct during the match between AC Milan and Estudiantes.

Ajax refused to take part in the 1971 edition through security concerns, a move later followed by Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The actual champions of both continents were represented only twice in the 1970s and it was scrapped on two other occasions, forcing UEFA and CONMEBOL to change the format to a one-off match in neutral Japan from 1980.