Real Madrid systematically dismissed Cruz Azul today by a 4-0 scoreline in the Club World Cup in a match that barely filled half the stands. Watching the game on television was a surreal experience. If this is FIFA's most prized competition and one they've been trying to promote since its inception in 2000, then why is there so little coverage, interest, and support for the competition?
The Club World Cup is an idea that spawned to copy it's Confederations Cup counter-part in pitting the winners of the Champions Leagues across the world against each other along with one host club.
The problem with the competition starts with where it's hosted. Small nations like the UAE and Morocco, with teams that are either barely professional or non-professional being thrown into a pot with the likes of Real Madrid, Corinthians, Chelsea, etc. Viewership and attendance is bound to suffer because no one from the big clubs is going to travel to a place like Morocco to watch Real Madrid in the middle of the winter.
That reveals the second issue with the competition: the timing. A week or two before Christmas is not the ideal time to take a trip half way around the world for a major competition. The summer, right after the major international competition ends but prior to the start of the season, is a great time to hold the tournament. The tournament's short to being with, so holding it across 2 weeks in July/August after the Euros or World Cup can allow players to break for their international teams and then resume for their club in a slightly competitive format to help prep them for the domestic seasons.
The third issue is the competition itself. Clubs like the ones from Asian and Africa are usually outclassed from the start and only serve to lessen the appeal of the competition. That's not to say they don't deserve a spot in the competition obviously, but they certainly don't make mouth-watering affairs. The host club also needs to be more prolific. Choosing say, Arsenal, would allow the Club World Cup to contain a few powerhouses like Corinthians, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Cruz Azul for example to allow 4-5 decent squads to compete (the 5th being a J-League team if they were to win the ACL).
The money is the only reason the clubs still play for the cup at this rate, with $5 million guaranteed for the winner, which is more than the FA Cup and just about an 18th place Premier League finish is worth in prize money (not including broadcasting & rights revenue).
Overall, Real should win the competition, but the appeal of the Club World Cup while great in theory, will continue to struggle so long as no one knows what to do with it.