February 15, 2021

Win-Win for Bayern Munich and Qatar at FIFA Club World Cup

The 2020 FIFA Club World Cup Qatar has concluded with football giants, FC Bayern Munich taking home the coveted Club World Champions title. They beat Mexico's Tigres UANL in the 1-0 final to win the Cup and make club history in the process. The German squad won all six trophies available to them in 2020 - two league titles (the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League), the DFB Cup and the DFL Super Cup, the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup - a feat only matched by Barcelona in 2010. 

The final between Bayern and Tigres was no easy task either. The Mexican squad held their own against the German team, making them work hard for the prize and their sixth history-making title. Indeed, Tigres were keen to make history of their own - a win in the final would have made the squad the first representative of CONCACAF, and by default Mexico, to become Club World Champions. After all, the Europeans have taken the title home thirteen times in seventeen tournaments, and the South Americans the other four. 

The match was held in Qatar's brand new 2022 World Cup venue, Education City Stadium in front of a crowd up to 12,000 strong. Tigres, who may not have given German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer much cause for concern during the game, gave a positive performance. The Mexican squad successfully kept the Germans at bay, breaking up play and applying a good defensive strategy. However, in the end, it wasn't enough as Bayern stepped up their game and right-back Benjamin Pavard slotted home a goal for Bayern in the 59th minute. 

Still, Tigres would have been happy with their performance throughout the tournament having seen off South Korea's Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 in the Second Round, and, somewhat unexpectedly, beating Brazilian team Palmeiras 1-0 in the semis. The team finished the tournament in second place, a first for CONCACAF teams who have only reached third place in the final previously, and received a guard of honour from Bayern as they picked up their silverware.

Speaking of silverware...Bayern's Lewandowski took home the Golden Ball for his efforts in the tournament; scoring twice against Egypt's Al Ahly in the semis and setting up the winning goal for Pavard in the final. Tigres' André-Pierre Christian Gignac took home the Silver Ball for his sterling performance during the competition, which saw him score all three of the teams winning goals. And, Bayern's Joshua Kimmich took the Bronze Ball. It seems, regardless of the final score, both teams had plenty to celebrate on their way home.

In fact, the tournament as a whole provided plenty of opportunities for celebration. Egyptian club Al Ahly SC took third place with a 3-2 win on penalties over South American champions Palmeiras. Al Ahly’s win gave the African confederation (CAF) their best result in the competition since Morocco's Raja Casablanca lost the 2013 final to Bayern Munich. Qatar’s Al Duhail also had reason to celebrate. In their first foray into the competition, they managed to secure fifth place beating rival continental team, and winners of the recent Asian Champions League, Ulsan Hyundai along the way. The team was also awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award.

So, Bayern has completed a sextuple and taken the Cup back to Germany for the second time (they first won the Club World Cup in 2013). The competition, which saw plenty of surprise wins and loses and gave cause for ample celebrations, is over for another year. Against a backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the successes of the 2020 tournament should be held in even higher regard. With the next World Cup less than two years away, and the pandemic still raging around the world, the Club World Cup is one of just a handful of international tournaments being completed after a year of stalled play, giving hope to the future success of the 2022 competition. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the praise being handed out to hosts of the 2020 Club World Cup and the 2022 World Cup…

High Praise

That the 2020 Club World Cup was held in Qatar is no great surprise. The nation has the infrastructure (stadiums, transport links, accommodation, training venues, etc.), which, due to the country's compact nature, is all located within close proximity to one another. It has superlative medical facilities. And, it has prior experience of successfully hosting large football events (the AFC Asian Champions League tournament and the Amir Cup final) during the pandemic. However, the Club World Cup tournament was the first global sporting tournament to take place since the COVID-19 outbreak began. So, all eyes were on Qatar to see how such an event would prevail in such extenuating circumstances. The praise the country has received during and after the event says it all.

The Club World Cup tournament has been lauded for its organisation, infrastructure and facilities, the health and safety measures adopted during the pandemic, and its medical provision and competence. The country itself has been applauded for its World Cup 2022 preparations, which have been under the spotlight at the recent event. And, praise has come from a myriad of supporters, from players, managers and FIFA President Gianni Infantino to doctors and national ambassadors. Here's what some of them had to say...

Gianni Infantino, FIFA President

“It has been very challenging to get here, but I have to say I’m very happy and proud that we managed to set up this year’s Club World Cup.”

“The atmosphere was great in the games. But this doesn’t happen on its own. This happens thanks to a very detailed, very professional, very professionally-implemented protocol and health insurance system because health comes first. It sends out an important message that here in Qatar, here in Doha, we can organise events safely for every involved — player, official, referee, fan, (and at) a World Cup.”

“This has only been possible thanks to the incredible work that has been done here in Qatar by the health authorities, by the organisers, by the government, of course starting with His Highness the Amir.”

Hansi Flick, FC Bayern Munich Manager

“We have perfect conditions (for the Club World Cup matches). I just had a look at the pitch and the conditions are top-notch, the stadium (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium) is beautiful,” 

“One can tell that everything will be in great shape to host the World Cup in 2022.”

Kaká, former midfielder at Brazil, AC Milan, Real Madrid and Sao Paulo

“The experience (at the 2020 Club World Cup) was really nice because we’ve all been through a very, very tough period. To be able to come back to the stadiums and watch a tournament like this – even if it is just with a limited capacity in attendance – is a sign of hope that we are almost finished after this dark period.”

“It (the 2022 World Cup) will be unique because all the stadiums are very close, so everybody will be almost in the same location. That will be amazing because we will be able to watch two, maybe three, games in the same day in different stadiums with different atmospheres and different supporters. It will be really nice and I’m looking forward to it.”

Júlio César, former goalkeeper at Brazil, Flamengo, Inter Milan and Benfica

“Everything I’ve seen here so far has been a pleasant surprise, particularly in terms of the infrastructure that is already in place, so we know by 2022 that Qatar will be ready to host the World Cup. I think the tournament will see a meeting of different cultures and will be a special moment for the world after the difficult times we have all had to endure with the pandemic.”

Lothar Matthäus, former German Football Player and Manager

“I have been to Qatar in the past. The climate now (February) is really good, it is pleasant during winter. If they have cooled down the stadiums, it will be really helpful for the players and the fans. We hope the current situation (the pandemic) gets better so that we can all enjoy a fantastic tournament in Qatar.”

Hussein El Shahat, Al Ahly Midfielder

“In terms of organisation, everything (at the 2020 Club World Cup) has been world-class. The training sites and stadiums are of the highest level. I just went out onto the pitch and the grass is a dream - just perfect. Qatar is doing a very good job and this is something which makes all Arabs very proud. We hope it will be a fantastic World Cup and I wish Qatar all the best. I hope to be here with the Egyptian team in 2022. I think the fans will have a lot to enjoy here in 2022. Hopefully, by then the pandemic is over and we will see full stadiums. I hope the fans will enjoy this atmosphere.”

Mohammed El Shenawy, Al Ahly Goalkeeper

“Everything is very well organised here (Qatar) and the stadiums are world-class. I am sure fans will enjoy the World Cup in Qatar. The stadiums are all close to each other, and if fans want to watch two matches in a day, they can. The transport is good and fans can easily get to and from the stadiums. I could see from our first match (against Al Duhail at Education City Stadium) that everything went smoothly. I think 2022 will be very good for fans, they will enjoy everything that Qatar has to offer.”

“We are all in the medical bubble (during the Club World Cup tournament) but the atmosphere is very good. We abide by the restrictions and thank the tournament organisers for their professionalism. We understand the circumstances we are in and realise we need to be resilient for the sake of the tournament. Everyone is aware of the significance of this event. Overall, everything is going well – the hotel is excellent and the stadiums are world-class. The players are happy and the atmosphere is very good.”

Pisto Mosimane, Al Ahly SC Manager

"The airport, transportation, hotels, stadiums, and training pitches are all fantastic - and these are the most important components when it comes to hosting a successful World Cup. From a technical point of view, everything is compliant here. I'd give it a green tick."

Dr Claudius Fischbach, German Ambassador to Qatar

“Hosting a tournament (the Club World Cup) in such conditions is not easy and I commend the Qatari Government for all its efforts in securing the safety of all. Despite the increasing number of cases, and the threat of a second wave, the country and the Local Organizing Committee has put measures in place to ensure that the teams and players are not put at any risk.” 

“I am impressed by the speed at which the country has advanced in terms of infrastructure and readiness ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2022. All eight stadiums are landmarks in their own way, with a mix of modernity, cultural representation and architecture in line with the Qatari heritage.”

The FIFA Club World Cup is, first and foremost, a tournament to celebrate global football and to decide who is the world's best football club. However, for 2020, the competition not only unveiled Bayern Munich as top-dog but also allowed Qatar to test its mettle as a competent, adaptable and professional sports hub, especially as hosts of the 2022 World Cup. The country's organising bodies and national authorities were able to test the nations' sporting infrastructure, organisational skills and event management expertise, and their crisis management capabilities in light of the coronavirus threat. In doing so, and successfully so, they also showed the world that they are ready for 2022.

Main image: Charnsitr/Shutterstock.com

Published: February 15, 2021
Last updated: February 15, 2021
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