Looking across the internet, there seems to be mixed views on the meaning of Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Corinthians in the Club World Cup Final; the first time a winner of the Champions League has not won the competition since 2006. Mostly there are two camps. The first is saying that it’s a worthless trophy and who cares if Chelsea lost, stick to domestic competitions. The second camp argues that although not the most important of trophies, a cup is a cup and would have placed Benitez in a rather strong position at the start of his Chelsea career; instead he is facing questions as to why his team lost to a rather mediocre Brazilian side. So, what are the real consequences of the loss?
Prize money for this tournament is $5 million. A measly sum for the club’s rich owners, amplified by the face that second place actually grants a reward of $4 million. So that’s a loss of $1 million, or just over £600,000. Oh how that would effect Chelsea, they could have bought just over 1% of Torres for that! Obviously I’m being sarcastic, so it’s clearly not about prize money.
Ticket sales? If you took one look at the crowd in the final, the blinding majority was in favour of the Corinthians. Meaning that Chelsea got a maximum of a matter of thousands from ticket sales. Credit to those who did go; but it meant nothing to Chelsea Football Club as a whole.
So. Finances? Well, no one was ever really going to care at a club like Chelsea; but even a team in the fiscal position of Everton wouldn’t have many sleepless nights about monetary issues from a final loss. It seems that this particular loss is likely to have a rather insignificant impact on the club.
Domestically, the news story isn’t likely to make any real headlines; it’s completely fair comment to say who cares? Even if the players were apparently completely fired up to win (which I’m sure they weren’t), Chelsea are a prestigious team with far greater goals. Still clinging onto the title race and soon to enter the FA Cup, plus a likely League Cup win on the way, the CWC is clearly bottom of their priorities. I’m sure you’d struggle to find a true Chelsea fan in the country who would spit his dummy out over a bias toward these domestic trophies.
It’s always nice for teams to branch out into areas who’s leagues aren’t particularly strong. For this, Man United have taken much of the East, with Arsenal taking most of Africa. Arguably, through much of the rest of the world, the leagues are strong enough to warrant large levels of domestic team support (illustrated by the mass turn out of fans for the Brazilian side Corinthians). So, there’s clearly money in it. But football isn’t all about money, a growing fan base is great. Clearly, knowledge of the team is always going to be a good thing, however Chelsea’s global reputation may have been tarnished by this loss. Thus, it seems that Chelsea won’t be gaining many sales in their memorabilia department this Christmas.
From the small prize money involved, I think it seems clear that reputation is the main issue with the Club World Cup. However, this is more the reputation of football as a sport than of individual teams. It’s the encouragement of football across the rest of the world, in Asia, Africa and Oceania in particular; an invitation, ‘Come and play with the big boys of Europe’. And for that, it works. However, the impact of this on Chelsea? Nothing. If anything, it shows the team that they are the greatest, that as the European team, they already have status; hence the lack of commitment or real bite to Chelsea’s performances.
3. Rafael Benítez:
Now this is the only person that this competition had real importance to. A trophy within weeks of taking charge? A huge boost. A loss in a final in which your team should be favourites? Questions arise immediately: Would Di Matteo have encouraged stronger performances? Has the disappointment at his employment from many fans just been proved? Has he only been brought in to inspire Torres and will this effect the rest of the team and their work ethic? These are all questions that Rafa will now be faced with. Unfortunate for him as he has merely accepted a job vacancy, but still, his team really should have beaten Corinthians in my opinion.
Time to actually answer my original question then… How has the loss affected Chelsea? It seems very minimal for the club as a whole. However, for Benítez, it could mark the start of a disastrous career for Chelsea, with questions rising almost immediately. For the sake of the sport, I hope that Rafa does sort things out quickly, as I’m not sure the footballing world can’t handle another high-profile sacking from Abramovic. Anyway, it’s understandable that Chelsea fans are saying that they don’t care about the loss, because really, it’s not important for the future of the fans in general as long as domestic form remains solid.
So to conclude in one sentence: Chelsea fans have every right not to care about this loss; but Rafa should be looking to rectify any issues that the match highlighted and quick.