By Kevin Koczwara
Republic of Ireland goal keeper Shay Given has come out and said what other players have been thinking: FIFA has set-up a barrier preventing smaller nations from getting into the World Cup final. By creating a seeding system FIFA has ruled out the chance that big-market nations(larger nations) will play one another in the play-off for the final spots for South Africa from European qualifying (UEFA).
The system that would make sense would be a random draw of teams. It works for the FA Cup and The Champions League and The Club World Cup every year. So, why shouldn’t it work for The World Cup?
This should be a hot topic in the footballing (Soccer) world. This system is surely working in the favor of potential play-off teams like France, Russia, Greece and potentially Portugal (if the stars align properly). And the system works against countries like Ireland, Bosnia, Croatia (in truth they should have no trouble beating just about anyone if they are healthy), Norway, and Scotland.
But FIFA could care less about the smaller countries who have less experience in the World Cup. What if one of those teams went on a historical run and made it to the Finals? That would not draw as many people as France or Russia (except maybe Ireland because people around the world have ancestors there, especially here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.).
Look at the Qualification Numbers for some of the teams that are in Second place and in control of there destiny.
- Republic of Ireland – 3 times
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – 0 times
- France – 12
- Russia- 9
- Norway- 2
- Croatia – 3
- Greece – 1
- Sweden – 11
- Scotland (tied with Norway in points, behind in Goal Differential) – 8
Given’s Got a Point
Given sees the seeding system as a way to weed out the likes of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are playing against so many odds already, because they will be seeded against the likes of France, Russia or Sweden. And he sees that none of those three will play one another, thus eliminating the chance that one of those teams will take out another large nation from the viewing public in the Cup tournament.
He has every right to be angry. What tournament is seeded by an outside body (outside of College Basketball and Football, but at least Basketball gets it right)? None, because how can you rank teams that don’t play head to head or have similar opponents? You can’t, people are going on their gut here. Who is to say that Russia is the third best team and France the best out of 8 runner-ups, they are all runner-ups and each should be given the same chance of playing one another. I will go one step further and say that the draw of play should be held off until one week before the match after teams have set their rosters, and on a neutral location. All of that will eliminate the strategic moving around and shifting of teams, and leave the game on an even playing field so that the best team will move on to South Africa and have a chance to play in the most popular sporting event in the world.
Oh, and I am rooting for Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina to make it to South Africa next year. Those countries deserve it. And as a fan I want to see Robbie Keane play in a World Cup once, he deserves it. And I want to see Edin Džeko and Zvjezdan Misimovic on the big stage–they are two of the best players in the world and deserve some more publicity.
Bent out of Shape
Darren Bent has every reason to be upset about being left out of Fabio Capello’s England squad. He is in rare foal scoring form, he scored again this weekend at Old Trafford, and is helping the underrated and overlooked Sunderland squad move from the bottom of the table in The Premier League and into mid-level contention. He is playing with fury and passion. He is scoring goals left and right, and helping set-up others for goals. He is exactly what England needs, a goal scorer with pace, strength, and girth. He has it all and is tearing up the competition it what I am saying.
Now, England is not short of players, in fact they may have too many players and not enough team members. The locker room is crowded with stars, but some of the players just don’t deserve to be there. Is Peter Crouch really in better form and a better player than Bent? I don’t think so, and I hope you don’t either. Bent is short in stature, but he is wide, strong and fast. he uses his wide body to shelter and protect on long balls, and uses his lightening quick pace and agility to open space for his teammates. Crouch can win the ball in the air, yes, but he can’t create space like Bent can for creative midfielders to roam (something England has a plethora of).
With Jermain Defoe still tender, Darren Bent is the perfect replacement. They both posses superior attacking skill and goal scoring prowess. And with the game at hand in Ukraine as nothing more than a practice run to the World Cup next summer (England qualified long ago in their table) isn’t it the perfect time for Capello to try and see who can impress and make the squad next summer or replace an injured player in the future?
Makes sense to me. Let me know your thoughts on the Darren Bent issue as well as the Shay Given grievance by leaving a comment.
Kevin Koczwara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @kkoczwara. Follow The Soccer Guys on Twitter for all the updates on the blog as well as other Soccer news @TheSoccerGuys. Check out Kevin’s other blog about everything and anything at Feel Da Beat.