The FIFA of the future. World football in 2026.

It’s 2026 and the Final of the Coca Cola World Soccer Champions League (™) is about to kick off.

Sepp Blatter - listening hard, just before winning re-election as President of FIFA for a historic fifth time in 2015.

Sepp Blatter – listening hard, just before winning re-election as President of FIFA for a historic fifth time in 2015.

Spain are taking on Team Brasil in the final of the biannual tournament and really it could go either way.

Team Brasil have been the sensational story of the China 2026 tournament, much to the sponsors’ delight. Firstly, they qualified for the competition only after a wild card enabled them to take part in the play-offs. And then – huge underdogs in every game they played – became the first non-European team to get to the final. And all that with a team of uncapped European-based players and Brazilian youngsters that broke away from the “official” national team – still religiously participating in FIFA’s version of the competition – only two years ago.

The final also pits the might of Europe versus the minnows of the “Rest of the World” for the first time in the trophy’s 10-year history. Team Brasil’s alter-ego – Brazil – have along with Russia (and Cameroon when they can scrape the money together to pay their players) dominated the original tournament since the Association de Football Européenne (formerly UEFA) withdrew its teams from the competition en masse in 2015.

It would be a shock with global seismic reverberations were the Latin American giants finally to give up on the FIFA World Cup and join in the European and Asian dominated version of the tournament. But the question has to be now: how much longer will Brazil be content to slum it in the World Cup?

Meanwhile, Spain are making their fourth appearance in five finals and are looking for a third win – enabling them to claim the newly re-branded Coca Cola Champions Cup (formerly the Michel Platini Trophy) outright. Only the USA, taking part in the competition for the first time this year, might feel they will ever be equipped to do battle with the mighty Red Fury, after LA Galaxy’s back-to-back Champions League (formerly UEFA Champions League) wins of the last two seasons.

But with the trail of catastrophes endured by the older competition over the last ten years – not just the split between Europe and FIFA in 2015, but the financial rifts with a stream of sponsors, the talk of continued corruption and embezzlement by high-ranking officials, the defection of the Asian teams immediately after Qatar 2022, and the disintegration of underfunded African stadia – it can’t be long before the FIFA World Cup gives way permanently to the brash newcomer.

Only time will tell, but the events of Sunday’s final in Beijing could well be crucial.

 

Photo credit: Source: Abr; Author: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr

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