It's Time For FIFA to Banish The Third Place Play-Off Game

16 JUL 1994:  TOMAS BROLIN OF SWEDEN CELEBRATES AFTER RECEIVING HIS THIRD PLACE MEDAL DURING THE SWEDEN VERSUS BULGARIA 1994 WORLD CUP FINALS THIRD AND FOURTH PLAYOFF MATCH AT THE ROSE BOWL STADIUM IN PASADENA. Mandatory Credit: Ben Radford/ALLSPORT

Sorry traditionalists, but it’s time for FIFA to abandon the Third Place Play-Off Game at future World Cup tournaments.

The concept of pitting the two losing semi-finalists against each other to determine who gets the bronze medal is an antiquated idea. Not only is it an idea from the past that has long outlived its use, but it’s also a waste of time for everyone involved from the players – who don’t want to get injured and don’t really care about winning – to the fans – who are not really interested in the game – and to FIFA, who only presumably carry on the tradition in hopes of carving out more revenue to add to their stockpile of cash.

In the eight consecutive World Cup tournaments I’ve watched since 1978, I’ve only watched the Third Place Play-Off Game approximately two to three times. Once was out of pure boredom when there was nothing else on television. Another time was out of curiosity. Even when England played in the Third Place Final game in 1990, I decided not to watch the game because it’s completely meaningless. I mean, does anyone remember who were the third place teams in the recent World Cup tournaments? Does anyone even care?

If the Third Place Final game does serve any purpose, it’s a way for countries to thank their supporters for cheering them on in the World Cup. And for the fans to thank their players. But that could easily be done on a victory bus tour throughout the country’s capital city.

In the competitive landscape of club football, the last thing a world-class player wants to do is to play another meaningless game. After exiting from the World Cup, the players should be sent home so they have time to relax and recover before their club season starts again. They don’t need to play one more game where they could get injured or worn out.

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