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So what exactly is this Confederations Cup that's going on, anyway?

The Confederations Cup is an international soccer tournament administered by FIFA, the sport's governing body.

The eight-team tournament has been around since 1997, but is rooted in the King Fahd Cup, which began in 1992.

In its current configuration, the tournament is held every four years, a year before the World Cup with the same host nation.

FIFA uses the tournament as a logistical tuneup for the World Cup, employing about half of the stadiums which will be used for next year's main event.

A country qualifies by winning its continental championship. That makes up six of the eight entrants. The reigning world champion and host nation are also included.

In this year's field, the United States qualified by winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is the regional championship for Central and North America and the Caribbean.

In addition to the U.S., which is ranked 14th in the world, this year's field included Spain (ranked No. 1), Italy (4), Brazil (5), Egypt (40), South Africa (72), Iraq (77), New Zealand (82).

The competition does not have any bearing on next year's World Cup, other than to affect teams' world rankings.

Is Matt Tupman still in the Royals farm system?

The catcher, who played two seasons for the Wichita Wranglers, was released by the Royals last week from Triple-A Omaha after promoting John Suomi from Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Tupman, 29, hit .305 while playing for the loaded 2006 Wranglers.

He was called up to the Royals last year for one game, when John Buck took a leave to be with his wife when she gave birth.

If Tupman never gets to the majors again, he will retain an odd distinction in the history of baseball.

According to research on baseball-reference.com, Tupman is one of 29 players to have played in only one big-league game and finish with a 1.000 batting average.

In Tupman's one game on May 18 last year, he singled in his only plate appearance.

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