Every December three clubs you've heard of (this year it's Barcelona, River Plate and Club America), and four more you probably haven't, compete in the Club World Cup. It's a poorly designed competition that takes the winner of each Confederation's Champions League (or equivalent) and puts them into a mini-tournament. Barca and Plate will only need to win two games to claim the title. For teams in CONCACAF, the AFC and CAF it is an opportunity to play for an actual trophy against the greatest clubs in the world. For CONMEBOL and UEFA sides it is a short diversion from meaningful competition. There's nearly $17 million in prize money handed out as well, with $5 million going to the winning team and $500,000 going to the seventh-place finisher.
But, it's the closest thing there is to a World Cup of clubs. And fans tend to enjoy it. According to Juan Arango about 15,000 Argentines headed to Osaka Japan for River Plate's first match. They'll be taking on Sanfrecce Hiroshima from the J-League. The Plate fans are having a blast.
Buenos Aires? Nope! Happening right now in Osaka as River Plate fans are turning the city into a red & white party. pic.twitter.com/gmvxZXb3gA— Sivan John™ (@SivanJohn) December 15, 2015
That last paragraph is exactly why Seattle and its soccer neighbor down in Portland should host the Club World Cup. Some tens of thousands of fans would travel to experience meaningful club competition, plus a team like a Barcelona would sell CenturyLink out.
Secondly the MLS Cup winner would be automatically entered. Yes, the Sounders and any other MLS team can still get in by winning CONCACAF Champions League, but that's a significant uphill battle.
Instead MLS, SUM and USSF could host the event. This year and 2016 are in Japan. Then the U.A.E hosts for 2017 and 2018. So we're talking quite a few years down the road due to the bidding structure for the event.
Put on your Imagination Cap and think to 2019 and 2020. It's December in Seattle, there's some fog and a 40-degree chill. The shops downtown have all their holiday lights, Pioneer Square is festive and then 10,000 Boca Juniors fans show up in their blue & white. They are getting ready to take on TP Mazembe, because they always win CAF. The next day the Seattle Sounders will face Barcelona, in a competitive match.
Invasion of Japan from River Plate fans, reminds us of what was it like in Brazil last year. pic.twitter.com/WdoClZqpLY— Sivan John™ (@SivanJohn) December 15, 2015
That is after a week of soccer festivities that included a loss by Chivas de Guadalajara, a visit from Vegalta Sendai and a team from New Zealand. It's fun to imagine, because it is slightly meaningful club soccer in a soccer mad city from a nation that too often sees pure cash grabs from UEFA's best.
Hosting would only require two cities, relatively close. They'd need to be cities where snow is unlikely (West Coast or Sun Belt) and if only one of those two hosts an NFL team or college bowl game that's a bonus as well.
Seattle and Portland could do this. It would succeed because we turn up for soccer games, particularly when they have meaning. An MLS team in the CWC would excite some locals and others from within the US would travel. Whichever other team from CONCACAF makes the tourney would flood the cities, as would the South American club's fans and of course any team that wins the UCL would have tens of thousands of interested fans in the US.
Hosting the Club World Cup makes sense from a tourism dollars perspective and from a soccer perspective. Now that bribes aren't required it makes sense for FIFA too.