The FIFA Confederations Cup
The FIFA Confederations Cup is an eight-team global competition that takes place every four years, and has organically developed into its current format where it is seen as a warm-up for the World Cup Finals.
The concept was born in the early 1990s, when Saudi Arabia hosted the King Fahd Cup in 1992. This tournament comprised of the hosts and a number of continental championship winners – South American champions Argentina, North and Central American champions the United States, and African champions Côte d’Ivoire. A second such competition in 1995 was expanded to six teams, with the Saudis as hosts before FIFA gave official status to the tournament which was rebadged as the FIFA Confederations Cup in 1997. Saudi Arabia were chosen as hosts for the third time – again as Asian Champions – and for the first time representatives from all of the FIFA confederations came together for the first time in any tournament outside of the FIFA World Cup.
From 1999 until 2005 the competition was held every two years, and in 2005 was placed on a four-year cycle with the competition being awarded to the host nation of the forthcoming FIFA World Cup. Now marketed as a high-profile event in its own right, the FIFA Confederations Cup effectively became a dress rehearsal and for the World Cup finals which would take place the following year.
The eight competing teams would include the hosts, the current FIFA World Cup champions and the winners of the six FIFA federation championships. In cases where the World Cup winners were also confederation champions, the World Cup runner-up would be invited; if there was further “duplication” – as was the case in 2005 when Brazil were both FIFA World Cup holders and South American champions and where World Cup runners-up Germany were also the hosts – the runner-up in the World Cup winner’s regional tournament would help make up the final eight. As the tournament is technically invitational, teams can choose to not to take part, and would usually be replaced with the “next best” team.
Germany’s Participation and Record
Germany has participated in two FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments: Mexico 1999 (as reigning European Champions) and then as hosts in 2005. They suffered a rather forgettable first phase elimination in 1999 – where the standard of play was even more embarrassing than the actual results – but finished in a creditable third place in front of their own home crowd six years later, scoring fifteen goals in five games and losing only to eventual champions Brazil.
Germany had also been eligible to participate in two further tournaments in 1997 (again as reigning European Champions) and 2003 (as FIFA World Cup runners-up), but on both of these occasions the DFB chose not to take part. Pulling out of the 1997 tournament had been a no-brainer: the tournament fell slap-bang in the middle of the Bundesliga winter break, and faced with the prospect of either upsetting the club sides or sending an Ersatz squad to Saudi Arabia the association decided to hand their place to the Euro 1996 runners-up, the Czech Republic. In 2003 the decision was a little harder to fathom on account of the tournament being held in June in neighbouring France, though it might have had something to do with the fear of taking fielding a weakened squad – as had been the case in 1999. The team’s place was taken by World Cup third-place finishers Turkey instead.
FIFA Confederations Cup Tournaments, and Germany’s Tournament Placing
Saudi Arabia 1997 (8 finalists) – Qualified as Euro 1996 champions, declined invitation
Mexico 1999 (8 finalists) – Qualified as Euro 1996 champions, eliminated in first phase
Korea/Japan 2001 (8 finalists) – Did not qualify
France 2003 (8 finalists) – Qualified as FIFA World Cup 2002 runners-up, declined invitation
Germany 2005 (8 finalists) – Qualified as hosts, third place
South Africa 2009 (8 finalists) – Did not qualify