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An Irish Defeat Would be a Loss for International Football

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I’ll admit that hearing many a pundit say that a World Cup without France would lose some of its bite made my blood boil.  I have nothing against French Football, and in fact cheered for them in each of their four knock out stage matches of Germany 2006.

But from my perspective an Irish defeat today in Paris would be a defeat for football.

Let me explain. International Football is not simply about people at home on television watching high profile players face other top players. It is about atmosphere and spirit. It is about tactics. It is about the flag.

While many neutrals want to see France on TV during the World Cup, I’d dare to say that South African tourism officials would rather have Ireland qualify. The Irish will provide a legion of traveling support as compared to France, where much of the country remains indifferent if not downright hostile to the national team. French fans, with the exception of a small niche of followers aren’t known to travel to support Les Blues.

Television executives in the United States and United Kingdom must also be concerned about the potential departure of the Irish side from the World Cup. Television viewership for Republic of Ireland matches, in previous international tournaments were among the highest in both nations for those respective tournaments.

From a coaching standpoint, Giovanni Trapatonni, the current Irish manager is among world football’s elite tacticians over the last thirty years while his opposite number Raymond Domenech is a figure of comedy and superstition: a man whose management skills at this level cannot be taken seriously. To lose Trapatonni at a World Cup for Domenech would be a crime against Football.

Then you have the players themselves. Theirry Henry may have been outstanding for Arsenal but he could never replicate his club form for France, and at times it seemed like he did not care to do so.

Contrast that with Robbie Keane, whose club career in England has been very good but not outstanding. Keane, however plays his best matches when in an Irish kit, scoring some of the best and most timely goals International Football has seen over the past eight years.

Further down the squads, you see one high priced club player after another with France. Many of whom, don’t seem to have the passion their Irish counterparts, paid less and playing for less prestigious clubs have when they put on the national team shirt.

If the French lose today, the players will go back to their respective clubs and get on with it. The fans will be upset for a few days but go back to regular daily life. If Ireland loses today, the players will have lost a piece of their being and something they worked so hard to achieve, while the nation will mourn for an extended period of time.

Against this backdrop, do we really think France ought to qualify instead of Ireland?


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  1. Fran Gray

    August 9, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Interesting to re-read all these comments 1 month after the World Cup. Some of them were quite prophetic….France were a disgrace in all senses of the word…the cosmic gods achieved retribution for blatant cheating by Henry back in November. The real disgrace though were FIFA who favoured big countries over small ones in an effort to maximise cash.. Roll on Euro 2012!

  2. Eoin

    November 23, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Dave Trotter, don’t be silly. The only reason was France, lol! 2002 Roy Keane left Ireland and flew home from the world.. ow wait you probably already know because it was all over world papers. Why was this match on PPV, and on most channels around the wold? Because BOTH teams have a HUGE fan base, and at the time both teams were evenly matched with Ireland being undefeated.

    Irelands quality of play also fairs very well at world cups. Take a look at the historyfor a small nation, the Irish throw a huge punch my friend.

  3. jleau

    November 18, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    How does seeding “stack the deck” against a team like Ireland? That statement suggests that they aren’t good enough to beat a good team and therefore should get an equal shot at playing an easier opponent (which is impossible since they are in fact one of the easier opponents). How is that more fair? If they can’t beat Russia or France why do they deserve a spot.

    I haven’t read any comments suggesting Ireland was really any good, just that they deserve it.

    UEFA should have got right from the beginnig but the end result is correct.

    • Team Speed

      November 18, 2009 at 7:32 pm

      Are you really this obtuse?

      • Jleau

        November 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm

        Is this really a comment?

    • steven

      November 18, 2009 at 11:53 pm

      You didn’t read my comment then, idiot

      • Jleau

        November 19, 2009 at 12:24 am

        Was there anything to read? A lame quote from the Shawshank Redemption.

        Hey at least calling me an idiot was something you came up with yourself.

  4. angus jung

    November 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    wtf. i don’t know a single neutral would root for scotland or ireland at the WC. two of the most annoying, drunk, and obnoxious sets of fans on earth. i really don’t see how someone who claims to enjoy football would rather see thugs like john o’shea or glenn whelan instead of franck ribery or gourcuff. i mean, let the best team win, and personally i would like to see france out for the sake of my team, but ireland are probably the last time i would like to see take their place.

    • steven

      November 18, 2009 at 11:54 pm

      Racist comments don’t belong here, how about I descibe you as a bad driver, rude with no sense of personal space, stick your drunk comments

      • Jleau

        November 19, 2009 at 12:34 am

        Stick with the movie quotes chief, thinking on your own really isn’t your thing.

  5. YourMom

    November 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I can’t stand when a blogger/pundit/journalist goes on about what is and isn’t “good for football”. It reeks of taking it all a bit too seriously, as if one’s sh** don’t stink.

    That aside, you make a good argument as to why we should be rooting for Ireland instead of the Frenchies. Rooting against France basically speaks for itself, but you gave it a decent go nonetheless.

  6. jleau

    November 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Let’s get this straight, the Irish are more worthy of a spot because UEFA is unfair and didn’t let them play Slovenia, Irish players would appreciate it more, and Irish people drink more beer which would make white S. Africans happy.

    The Irish making to the WC or not will not matter to anyone but Irish people. They have no chance at winning and their impact on the competition would be minimal both in sporting and economic terms.

    France’s absence could effect the tourney as they have the talent to win. The odds are not high with their coach.

    Bottom line is what serves the greater good is the team that wins on the field moves forward.

    Please stop the crying about seeding. If Ireland can’t beat France then there is no logical arguement that they are more deserving than the French.

    • JLay

      November 18, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      The small market teams were jobbed by FIFA / UEFA, plain and simple.
      Changing the rules at midnight to improve the chances of the large-market teams is dirty pool. I don’t think that people have an issue with the format, it’s more that the format was changed at the last minute to directly benefit France, Portugal, and Russia.

      Stacking the deck against the underdogs works against FIFA’s “Fair Play” message, don’t you agree? The entire point of qualifying is that the little guys have a legitimate shot at making the cut – if you change the format to take that away, why bother to qualify at all?

      What’s next? Will they do away with qualifying entirely and seed the WC based on FIFA rankings? Would you support that too?

      • Evan

        November 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

        How on earth was the seeding “changing the rules”? Care to point me to any official FIFA document prior to the announcement of the seeding explaining the playoff draw?

        They seeded the playoff draw in 2005 for the 2006 WC. I can’t comprehend how using the EXACT SAME methodology is somehow gaming the system. In all of the other confederations, there were 12 different draws using FIFA rankings to have seeded teams. Why is it suddenly a grave injustice for the same to happen in Europe?

        Or, we could go back to the days when there were no ranked playoffs and the second placed teams with the best record got through…in which case, Ireland would already be eliminated.

  7. Eric Altshule

    November 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I could not agree more. The hard truth is that France of 2010 is no longer the France of 2006, let alone 1998. They are between generations right now, and having them miss the WC Finals would be no great loss. France was a sad outfit in the Euros last year, and if they get by the Irish, I do not expect a ton out of them in South Africa.
    On the other hand, if the Irish make it to South Africa, they will be the star attraction. South African culture (at least for the white people) is a pub and party country, and the Irish fans will dive in with both feet. Results on the pitch will almost be beside the point – the Irish will add to the fun, party atmosphere and make the entire tournament more memorable.
    Imagine this difference – if France wins tonight, the French will be happy. If Ireland wins tonight, it will be like V-E day in Dublin. The party will not end before dawn. Who would not want that kind of atmosphere next summer?

  8. Marc

    November 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Stand up for the boys in green.

  9. Steven

    November 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Purely based on fairness Ireland deserve to be there.
    It disgusting and immoral that the ruling bodies should arbitrarily decide that they should seed the second place qualifiers purely based on the fact that a few of the big players had lousy qualifying campaigns.
    The rules for a tournament should be in place prior to the kick off of the first round of games, and to suddenly change the rules is wrong, wrong, wrong.
    Good luck to the French they will probably get through today and the FIFA/UEFA money men will be happy. But to describe their qualifiying campaign as anything other than a backbiting, bitter, whining mess would be inaccurate. Domench is nothing more than a circus clown leading a pack of petulant brats and I doubt they will have much impact on the final rounds in SA. Ireland on the other hand are a team that went the whole qualifiying campaign undefeated, which included a trip to Italy.
    They are men proud to wear the green shirt and speaking as someone on US soil, have an enormous following among the US socer fans unlike the French.
    I hope this will all be arbitrary and that withminutes left in Paris of stoppage time, the game locked at 1-1, Richard Dunne, will rise above an unsure Blue defence to fire the Irish to South Africa and justice will be done.

  10. Dave Trotter

    November 18, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Oh, and Kartik, I know you would say this about other teams as well. I just think this is only the second thing we disagree on, next to the Packers-Bears 🙂

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      November 18, 2009 at 12:06 pm

      LOL, very true! I wish France and Ireland has not drawn each other! 🙂

  11. Dave Trotter

    November 18, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I was going to make some remarks, but I think that everyone the did post France responses pretty much pointed out what I would have said.

    First of all, about television ratings…nobody in the US is going to watch Ireland because they just happen to be of Irish decent. I am mostly Irish and Slovak and both of them make it, I am sure I won’t watch their games.

    Second, I agree with what most of you said….Is bringing a few more Irish fans to South Africa worth degrading the level of play? I don’t think so.

    World Cup has done just find without Ireland in the past, and they will continue to do so. The 1998 and 2006 World Cups were perfectly fine without Ireland.

    If anything, I think Ireland would be the flash in the pan, not France. If Ireland were to qualify, people around the world would say “yeah, Ireland qualified, that is great.” A few days later, they would get on with their lives and once the World Cup starts play, nobody will give a crap about Ireland because they assume they are going to lose anyway.

    Whereas with France, people watch them because they want to see what they do. Of course they were the headliners in 1998 and 2006. But in 2004, they recieved just as much press because of how poorly they played. Therefore, I think people would follow the progress of France in the World Cup more than they would Ireland.

    And, finally, I just want to say this….If Ireland were playing, let say, Slovenia or Ukraine, nobody would give a rats ass about today’s game. Nobody would talk about it. And, I bet they wouldn’t be on pay-per-view. There is a reason that these are pay-per-view matches.

    And that reason….France.

    • adebayor

      November 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm

      finally somebody is making sense

    • ovalball

      November 18, 2009 at 2:11 pm

      “…nobody in the US is going to watch Ireland because they just happen to be of Irish decent.”

      I won’t????? Damn. News to me. 🙂

  12. Team Speed

    November 18, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I’d like to see Ireland qualify at the expense of France just to stick it to UEFA for the BS last-minute seeding of teams.

  13. josh rad

    November 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    completely agree! Thanks for speaking up!

  14. Jon

    November 18, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I agree with Ivan and iZno85: while I appreciate the fervor that the Irish fans bring to the game and while it will cut out a large portion of expatriate and irish descendant fans in the North American market, I think the tournament will be better served by the teams of better quality.

    While having a strong fan base is great for attending the game live, as an observer who will be watching from my living room, the quality of the game on the pitch is more important to me than hearing the occasional chant from the fans at the game. In that regard, I don’t think there is any question about the quality of the players on display. France are head and shoulders and then some ahead of Ireland in terms of the players. Franck Ribery’s absence would be just as bad for the world game as that of Messi or Ronaldo.

    I won’t be upset if Ireland pull the upset and go instead of France, and I won’t really cheer for either one tonight, but if I were the Almighty Football God, I would pick Les Bleus.

  15. Ivan

    November 18, 2009 at 10:41 am

    No way. Irish players make the ball cry. Their creativity level is at negative 7, and the luck of the Irish will run out today(in both their games against Georgia, Italy away, and both games v. Cyprus, the Irish scored late late goals to give them undeserved points).
    From the TV standpoint: yes, a sizable Irish population in the US will be disappointed, but, from a footballing standpoint, I’d rather watch Ribery than John O’Shea come next summer.

    • Laurence

      November 18, 2009 at 11:39 am

      Both teams have their merits but Ireland don’t make the ball cry, they have some really creative players and move the ball around well. I love supported them as the underdogs in the past I want to see them there but France would be a great loss in terms of football. Either way it’s England’s cup and beating both teams would bring different bragging rights…

    • Rory

      November 20, 2009 at 11:01 am

      Ivan you are talking rubbish,
      Against Georgia we were 2-0 up and conceded in injury time to make it a 2-1 win. Against Italy at home we were 2-1 up going into injury time and Italy snatched a draw. We scored in the 5th minute against Cyprus at home. Do not mean to be pedantic but get your facts straight. I have been to or watched all of Ireland’s games in this campaign and these undeserved points you speak of are nonsense.

  16. Marcus

    November 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Is this game on tv anywhere in the us?

    • Ivan

      November 18, 2009 at 10:43 am

      The game is on closed circuit pay-per-view, $20/person. Check your neighborhood’s sports bar.

      • Marcus

        November 18, 2009 at 10:52 am

        Thanks, they are only playing a replay of it tomorrow. Sucks

        • ovalball

          November 18, 2009 at 12:42 pm

          I will be watching this live, no fee, as part of my Setanta-i yearly subscription. You can watch for $20. :_D

  17. iZno85

    November 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    are you serious ?

    France lost last WC Finals to penalties !
    Ireland would play with engagement, but their level isn’t good enough for that kind of competition.

    • JLay

      November 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm

      That was 4 years ago, and France are an old squad. More recently, France was beaten out in group 7 by Serbia, a team that went 3 and out at the last WC.

      If they can’t top Serbia in group play and/or Ireland in a playoff, they aren’t good enough to go. I don’t care how well they’ve done in the past, or how many goals Henry scored 10 years ago.

      They were already handed an assist when UEFA / FIFA decided to seed the playoffs.

  18. Mgrayscale

    November 18, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I agree completely. I’ve heard this same argument made, replacing Ireland with Scotland, as the Tartan Army are not only great for the host countries economy, but relatively speaking, are good ambassadors of football and a team many like to root for (re: underdog). Unfortunately, I fear Ireland will have to join Scotland in June and watch on TV.

    • Kartik Krishnaiyer

      November 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

      I’ve often remarked if people don’t have a nation to cheer for or an ethnic reason to support another country (ie. Africans cheering for Cameroon in 1990, for very good reason.) that Scotland are Ireland are the neutrals favorites. It’s something alot of people who support big footballing nations or big clubs just do not understand.

      The Tartan Army is missed at international competitions.

  19. daariwal

    November 18, 2009 at 9:18 am

    It’s only 1-0 and even French are only beaten once in home under R.D, it’s not un-do-able. Love to see Ireland beating France today.

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