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Oct 31, 2022

As preparations for next month's 2022 FIFA World Cup spectacle in Qatar enter their final stages, we turn our attention back to the pitch for an intriguing look back at a seminal international "friendly" tournament earnestly designed to crown a world club soccer champion - and the unwitting genesis for today's officially-sanctioned FIFA Club World Cup competition.
Soccer writer and part-time English lower-division amateur coach Dan Williamson ("When Two Worlds Collide: The Intercontinental Cup Years") takes us on a journey from 1960 to 2004, when the Intercontinental Cup (later known as the one-match "Toyota Cup" from 1980-onward) ambitiously sought to determine the world's best club team by annually pitting the champions of the two historically strongest continents - Europe and South America - against each other in front of an internationally televised audience.
​Although never formally recognized by the sport's governing body at the time, soccer media and fans alike reveled in clashes featuring some of the modern era's most iconic franchises and legendary players - and had no problem acknowledging each year's victors as the not-so-unofficial club champions of the world.
We dig into the Cup's controversial (and sometimes violent) clashes of the late 1960s; its decline (including numerous team boycotts) during the 70s; a competition-saving, Japanese-sponsored rebirth in 1980 - and the eventual absorption and expansion of the series into FIFA's formal orbit in the 2000s - replete with the retroactive (and ironic) reclassification of its winners as (now-)"official" world champions.
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