Connect with us


FIFA Needs To Revamp International Football


It’s time for FIFA to rethink international football.

In 1992, UEFA changed the European Cup to the Champions League and transformed European club football into a more entertaining product that generates vast sums of money. It also didn’t hurt that the tournament now attracts a cumulative television audience of 4 billion viewers in 227 countries.

While club football in the form of the Champions League, Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga has flourished, international football has come far less important with each passing year. Sure, we football fans still love the massive tournaments such as the World Cup, Copa America and European Championships, but the rest of international football competitions are mundane and an inconvenience.

Take England, for example. Their first match in their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign kicked off last Saturday against Andorra. Between now and the next 14 months, England will play nine other matches against the likes of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Andorra and Croatia. Other than the home and away leg against Croatia, the list of future England matches hardly inspires any enthusiasm.

One of the main problems about international football is that other than the actual tournaments themselves, the qualifying matches and friendlies are – for the most part – dire. By increasing the number of teams that play in major tournaments and increasing the number of countries to participate in qualifying rounds, teams like England suffer a long and arduous process just to enter the World Cup and European Championships.

Sure, we shouldn’t take it for granted that teams like England should qualify for these tournaments, but there has to be a better system for reducing the length of the qualification process.

The way that internationals interrupt league football throughout the season is frustrating for football fans, players and the football managers and club owners. Everyone loses. Players are exhausted after flying halfway around the world and then are expected to come back and play club football the following Saturday. Fans are frustrated that the momentum from the start to the new season has been stopped, while club managers and owners do battle with football associations and national managers trying to find new ways to prevent their star players from competing in international games.

The solution is to cease the 14 month qualification process and replace it with a mini-tournament to determine which nations will qualify for the European Championships or World Cup. The mini-tournament would be held within the space of 30 days — thus allowing players and fans to watch teams compete to qualify for the major competitions. The solution would be more attractive to players, fans, club managers, owners and would hopefully appease the football associations.

I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I do believe that FIFA needs to look into changing international football to make it something we can believe in again. Hopefully they’ll do that before it’s too late, if it’s not too late already.

What do you think? Is international football fine the way it is, or should FIFA step in and rethink the way the qualification processes for tournaments are organized?

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more



  1. Fredorrarci

    September 9, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    An important function that international football serves these days is to maintain the connection between fans in smaller or non-European countries to their players who play in the major leagues. Already, several non-European nations have been cowed by the big clubs into playing 'home' friendlies in Europe. Due to this, Brazilian fans, for example, are deprived of seeing their own stars in the flesh for extended periods of time. If the richest nations are happy to reap the benefits of being in such a privileged position in the globalised football economy, they should put up with being inconvenienced by international breaks four or five time a year, or with having to deign to play those pesky principalities every so often.

    To say as Hasan does above that “The charm lies in club rivalries…So let us all enjoy international football once in every 2 years without letting its charm die” is to close of a whole swathe of what makes football football. It is more than what goes on in those parts of the world fortunate enough to see the world's best players up close every week. International football might need a nip here and a tuck there, but drastic surgery is not required.

  2. cat dirt

    September 9, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I agree, but my beef is with CONCACAF: first there are two stages of home and away pre-qualifier, then three four team groups with top two advancing, then a final stage for the actual qualifying where the top 3 of 6 qualify. The process goes on forever and you know- in the beginning- that out of the final 6 Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica & El Salvador will be through. You're telling me it takes six months to find out whether it will be Trinidad & Tobago/Guatemala as the final club in the group of 6? Seriously? Why not give a pass to the final round for any team that has qualified, say, the last two world cups. That would give you three of your final six: Mexico, U.S & Costa Rica

  3. Thomas

    September 9, 2008 at 10:28 am

    I agree with Kartic, UEFA need to pre qualify teams and get the groups down to 5 teams. I agree Andorra is a joke, but the other countries in this group are legitmate. Those countries deserve their shot. Europes principalities, Luxembourg on down, are the only ones that should prequalify. Presumable, Luxembourg would win such a tournament. Then, in future qualifications, last place finishers should pre qualify against the principalities that didn't come out of that prequalification previously.

    I love World Cup qualifying dates, the idea that the whole world is playing matches on day for one purpose is really cool to me.

  4. AtlantaPompey

    September 9, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I would rather see the individual confederations tournaments become the qualification tournament for the world cup. Open up the tournaments to every team in the region, have several different levels of knockouts, give certain countries a bye into the next round, etc.

    This would not only cut down on the number of international matches, but make all of them meaningful. Every confederation would have to play it's tournament the year before the World Cup and in the month of June. Imagine the excitement that would generate having all of those tournaments running at the same time?

  5. Kartik

    September 9, 2008 at 7:23 am

    This is on UEFA not FIFA.

    CONCACAF and AFC get rid of the minnows early by having early knock out rounds and ensuring everyone left at this stage has enough quality to be competitive. Somehow Canada sneaks through every time but they get eliminated in due course when the minnows are gone. 🙂 (not a dig at Canada, but their presence at this stage consistently is becoming a joke because they cannot get any further much like the US and Saudi Arabia presence at the World Cup is a joke because they are like fresh roadkill when they get to the finals)

    UEFA needs to have a pre qualifying tournament . That's the simple solution.

    By the way, I feel the Ukraine and not Croatia will be England's biggest hurdle in this group. It is very difficult to get road points in Belarus also. The group isn't as easy as many in the English media think. Simply beating Croatia doesn't ensure anything.

  6. Roddy

    September 8, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    UEFA ought to have a look at what Asia do, separating their countries into a few categories for international games. Get all the lower-ranked nations to play some games against each other, then take the best couple of teams and pit them in a pool with the big boys. Many of the games in the advanced stage are in a small space of time, like the Gaffer recommends. They do the same with the Asian Cup.

    Adopting this would cut the exhaustion, since most of the lower-ranked UEFA countries are concentrated in eastern Europe. England would still have to travel to Russia and Croatia et al, but for far fewer fixtures.

  7. Hasan

    September 8, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    Football is not cricket.Football should remain football.The charm lies in club rivalries: Liverpool-Everton,Arsenal-Tottenham,Barca-Real.In cricket every year hundreds of internationals are played and believe me it is one of the most boring sports in the world(I'm telling this to you despite being an Indian).So let us all enjoy international football once in every 2 years without letting its charm die.

  8. Vjeko

    September 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Im Croatian…. the England match is not what I am looking forward to.. England couldnt qualify for Euro 2008. I cant wait to watch Croatia play Ukraine. Should be tough!!!!

  9. Richard Whittall

    September 8, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Football's not all about television and entertainment. Why change everything because you might find Turkey v. Slovakia a bit boring? England duds have been around a lot longer than Setanta PPV.

    If anything, FIFA should make the World Cup HARDER to qualify for. And England, judging by the past forty years, are owed absolutely nothing as far as qualification matches go.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »