What is the Confederations Cup?

2013 Confederations Cup final - Brazil v Spain
Brazil beat Spain 3-0 in the 2013 Confederations Cup final. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

The FIFA Confederations Cup is an eight-team international tournament held every four years. Though it lacks the prestige of a World Cup or a confederation championship, like the European Cup or the Copa America, it provides meaningful competition for national teams during an off-summer. The eight teams always include the reigning champions from the six FIFA confederations, the host nation, and the holders of the World Cup.


The Confederations Cup has several ancestors, but the oldest is widely accepted to be the Copa D'Oro, which was held in 1985 and 1993 between the winners of the Copa America and the European champions.

In 1992, Saudi Arabia organized the King Fahd Cup for the first time and invited a few of the regional champions to play a tournament with the Saudi national team. They played the tournament a second time in 1995 before FIFA decided to take over its organization. The first FIFA Confederations Cup took place in Saudi Arabia in 1997 and was played every two years until 2005. FIFA then made the tournament quadrennial.

Dress Rehearsal

Since 1997, the Cup has become a dress rehearsal for nations hosting a World Cup the following year. It gives them an opportunity to use many of the World Cup facilities and provides some competition for the host nation instead of the friendlies it plays because it did not have to go through the World Cup qualifying process.

Qualifying Teams

Because of intense World Cup qualifying schedules, participation is optional for the South American and European Champions. In 1999, for instance, World Cup holders France declined to play in the tournament and were instead replaced by the 1998 runners-up, Brazil.

There can also be some overlap among the qualifying teams, like in 2001, when France was both the reigning European and World Cup champion.

In that case, the World Cup runner-up is also invited. The same logic applies to defending confederation champions.


  • 1997: Brazil
  • 1999: Mexico
  • 2001: France
  • 2003: France
  • 2005: Brazil
  • 2009: Brazil
  • 2013: Brazil