Supporters of various national teams across the globe are already packing their bags, updating their passports & booking flights to South Africa for next Summer’s World Cup Finals. With their beloved nation’s automatic qualification secure, they’ve only the stress-free decision of which player’s replica kit their going to wear during their teams opening match left to decide. Ahh’ the bliss of yet another major tournament qualification under your belt & the return of club football (thank God), what could be better?
But not every supporter of International football will share the same feelings as those of the supporters of England, U.S.A., Brazil, Italy, Germany & hey, even Argentina (to name a few). What becomes of the frowning countries set to compete in Europe’s 2nd place playoffs? – more specifically, FIFA’s recent controversial decision to seed all 8 of the remaining countries. Of course what this means for “smaller” nations is the likeliness they’ll face a historically “bigger” nation in their quest for glory in South Africa.
Recently, Ireland International & Manchester City shot-stopper-extraordinaire Shay Given lambasted FIFA for their convenient, late decision to” nudge” some of the struggling giants into the Finals.
“I think it’s pretty disgusting to be honest. Before a ball is kicked, these things should be made clear”.
“The smaller nations should maybe put up more of a fight because it is not fair”.
Does Given have a point?
As it stands, the remaining 8 countries are as follows:
Portugal, Greece, Slovenia, Russia, Bosnia, Ukraine, France & Ireland.
In my estimation, the top seeds will probably be awarded to France, Portugal, Russia & Greece (Greece could get a seed in my opinion due to their success in Euro 2004), with maybe Ukraine sneaking in at the behest of either Russia or Greece.
Now that we know who’s involved, is this process remotely fair? Does Given have a point in his remarks? As an England supporter, I had to endure their abysmal failure during Euro 2008 qualification & the subsequent tournament without my beloved 3 Lions. Why? Because they weren’t good enough. All teams involved have the same amount of opportunities to gain points throughout the qualification process without favoritism coming into play. Euro 2008 ended up being an incredible display of attacking football & each match I watched was a footballing joy. England are now a better team for all their past failures. The point in this is that if you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough. Plain & simple.
Now I realize what you’re thinking, & yes you’re right. These teams were good enough (for 2nd place) & deserve their shot. I agree, but why not let all 2nd place teams be equal? Why separate them & show favor to bigger footballing nations? Given is right in my opinion. A World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo is a travesty, I get that. But a World Cup without an Ireland or Bosnia because other teams were shown favoritism is equally wrong. How epic would a 2-leg playoff affair between France & Portugal be for neutral football fans? Imagine that! All the marbles are on the line with 2 very successful footballing nations giving everything they’ve got to reach the Finals. It’s unfortunate, but we’ll probably never get to experience it.
What are your thoughts? Take a second to leave an answer below & we’ll see what the brilliant readers of EPL Talk think about it. Enjoy your football.