Confed Cup shows Russia ready to host World Cup

SAINT PETERSBURG: Germany’s Confederations Cup-winning coach Joachim Loew and Fifa president Gianni Infantino have led the calls for giving Russia the seal of approval to host next year’s World Cup.
Lars Stindl’s first-half goal in Sunday’s final sealed Germany’s 1-0 win over Chile, bringing down the curtain on the 2017 Confed Cup — a warm-up for next year’s World Cup finals. This could be the last Confed Cup in it’s current format — Infantino has said the competition is under review — but the fortnight-long tournament proved Russia can host a World Cup.
With less than a year to go before the World Cup starts on June 14 2018, fears racism and hooliganism would blight the Confed Cup proved unfounded.
“We had been hearing before this tournament about a lot of ‘problems’ we would experience here,” said Infantino. “If a problematic tournament looks like this one, well, I want to have many problematic tournaments going forward,” he quipped.
Germany’s head coach Loew warmly praised the hosts after his inexperienced squad, minus their World Cup winning stars, came of age to beat Chile.
“Many thanks to Russia — you have been great hosts in the different cities where we have played,” said Loew.
“We have seen excellent conditions at the stadiums, this has been brilliantly organised and we’ve met some outstanding people along the way.”
The 16 matches passed off without incident off the field and the main talking points were the controversial testing of the video assistant referee (VAR) and Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances for Portugal.
The Real Madrid superstar produced three man-of-the-match performances, but left the tournament when Portugal lost their semifinal to Chile — jetting off to be with his new-born twins rather than help beat Mexico in the third-place play-off.
The VAR received a mixed reception, but Infantino has described it as “the future of football”.
Infantino admits the system needs refining and Fifa will decide whether to use it at next year’s World Cup. The system largely removed blatant refereeing mistakes, but led to some disruptions during matches. — AFP