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Top 5 Reasons Why I Dislike FIFA International Dates


I’ll be the first to admit that FIFA international dates are something that I don’t get excited about. It means either meaningless friendlies or semi-interesting football matches. These games fail to have the fever pitch excitement and build-up to games that we’re accustomed to experiencing each week in the Premier League. FIFA International Dates almost feel like a third-cousin. Someone you don’t know very well. You see him infrequently, so it takes time to become adjusted to him and it’s harder to get to know him.

So, here are five reasons why I dislike FIFA International Dates:

  1. They disrupt the domestic calendar. The momentum that was gained with the beginning of the 2010-11 Premier League has stopped. Now we have to wait until the international dates are over before we can “change gears” and begin to get excited again about the return of club football.
  2. The football isn’t as exciting. International football is nowhere near as exciting as it used to be. We’ve been spoilt by watching all-star teams with the best players from around the world play for Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and other teams. So when we watch international soccer, it just seems – for the most part – second rate.
  3. Too long and drawn out. England’s first game of the Euro 2012 game was last Friday when they beat Bulgaria 4-0. Assuming that England doesn’t need to go through a play-off, their campaign will end in October 2011. But we won’t know who the final 16 are for Euro 2012 until the play-off qualifiers end on November 15, 2011. And then the competition itself won’t begin until June 8, 2012. A competitive cycle, from start to finish, of almost two years is agonizingly long.
  4. Injuries. It never fails that there always seems to be a high-profile player who gets injured during the international break, which removes some of the appeal of the domestic leagues when players are either injured, tired or groggy.
  5. It’s harder for neutrals to relate. The beauty of the Premier League is that no matter where you live in the world, you don’t feel guilty cheering on a city that you have no connection to. A Chelsea supporter in Hong Kong or Santa Monica seems perfectly normal. But when it’s nations, it’s harder to relate because unless your country is playing, you’re automatically going to be less interested. It’s still soccer, so you can watch the game without reservations but it’s harder to get excited about it when it’s two countries you have little interest in.
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  1. boringarsenal

    September 8, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. My dream would be for the wholesale abandonment of Internationals. As an Arsenal supporter, and a proud member of the Arsenal Supporters Trust, I fall into utter dismay, seeing our footballers injured playing in endless “friendlies” and multi-year tournaments. I’m willing to bet the shop that most football supporters prefer their club matches over these Internationals. Of course, FIFA would have something to say about gutting their livelihood, but the trends are there for all to see; club football trumps Internationals every time.

  2. timmyg

    September 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Agree with points one to three. I’ll also add that because the tournament is so drawn out and so many nations involved, it’s quite difficult for smaller nations to catch lightning. Anytime you increase the amount of games, you decrease the chances of upsets and Cinderella’s. We’re just two (in some cases one) games in and already about half the teams involved are practically eliminated.

    I’ve always thought UEFA should split qualifying in two and have a First and Second Round Qualifying for the Euros. That way smaller nations can gain valuable experience by playing another in (meaningful) games and give some of the big nations time off. But it’ll never happen because it means less games, which means less $$$.

    • timmyg

      September 7, 2010 at 10:25 pm

      Oh, and one last thing — splitting the qualification process into two rounds would also make every game matter.

      Currently, depending on what group and place a nation is in, games against the sixth placed teams don’t even count.

  3. Smokey Bacon

    September 7, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Anybody know why the current Euro qualifying games are Friday & Tuesday? I can’t recall a qualifier being played on a Friday until now. I agree its distracting from the domestic season. Perhaps they should go back to playing only play one qualifier during international week on a Wednesday and leave the weekends for the domestic leagues – thats how it used to be in the 70s and 80s. Also, the lesser teams like San Marino should have to pre-qualify for the group stages which would cut down the size of the groups thereby requiring fewer qualifying games. Easy!

    • Crpls

      September 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm

      FIFA switched international dates from Sat/Wed to Fri/Tue to appease club teams. They get their players back a day earlier after the break now and have an extra day for them to prepare for weekend action.

  4. Harold G

    September 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    This article is very arrogant.

    Maybe if England had an international team to be proud of, you’d like internationals much more. You ask those in Argentina tonight if they don’t want to see their stars play at home like they did tonight. Club football is not the be all and end all, especially the premier league.

    International football isn’t exciting? Why watch Chelsea vs Barcelona part xx, we know Chelsea will sit deep and tackle aggresively, is that excitement to you? Or watching incompetent sides like Wigan losing 9-1 and 6-0 as exciting?

    Too long drawn out? It takes 9 months to play 13 games to win the Champions League, and 13 months to play 10 games, what is the difference? See the flaw in your analysis?

    Injuries? What about teams like Germany that see many of their players miss the greatest tournament in their careers see it lost out because of injuries? They only get a few chances to play Euro’s and World Cups, but can win a title every season, don’t hear national teams complain.

    Harder to relate? I started watching football because of internationals, I got to learn history from it, cultures from it. I wouldn’t relate seeing Chelsea bashing a team senseless, I’d think it is madness.

    it seems to me, the only ones who hate internationals are those who come from english speaking countries, french only recently don’t want to see their team because of domenech, germany, we love our team, italy love their team that has won 4 world titles, spain love their team now, brazil love their team, argentina too.

  5. Poker Rakeback

    September 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Come on England, back to kicking ass and taking names, Euro champs, bring it on.
    Spain got beat by this shower, kicked their arse in their own back yard.

  6. Mike in Idaho

    September 7, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I disagree with this article, I find it a lot easier to pick sides when countries are playing that I have visited than two teams in English towns I have never been to.

    • seamus

      September 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

      what towns where they then? i feel sorry for them

  7. Patrico

    September 7, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I like qualifiers myself, but there’s something to the first four points above….

    So what would be the preferred alternative? A few possibilities:

    1. More automatic qualifying teams, e.g., if you finished in the top 4 in the prior tournament or prior 2 tournaments

    2. Less teams in the qualifying pool – does San Marino ever have any shot?

    3. More teams in the tournament itself – e.g., double the size of the World Cup and Euros

    4. If you take steps 1-3, then the remaining qualification groups could be smaller, or could be single-elimination home-and-aways…..

    But all of this would probably make the national teams weaker, since they’ll play fewer meaningful games together.

  8. hank

    September 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Totally disagree. I’ll grant that 1 and 4 are legitimate concerns of fans of club football. But, international football can certainly entertaining, and a precondition of having great tournaments like the world-cup or the euros is having some kind of qualification process. Maybe the qualification process could be redesigned, but I imagine doing that is a lot trickier than it sounds. Finally, point 5 is just nonsense – if someone in Hong Kong can do the mental gymnastics required to support club team that isn’t their own, they’re certainly capable of supporting a national side (or two) that isn’t their own.

  9. Paul

    September 7, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I see international breaks as a necessary evil. We all enjoy the World Cup and the Euro tournaments, and these simply wouldn’t be possible if the coaches only had their players for one month every other year. Stretching out qualifying for these tournaments and having friendlies allow coaches to try out players and make cohesive teams instead of having coaches figure out who their best 11 are and what formation to play when the plane lands in South Africa (or Poland/Ukraine 2012).

  10. tonyspeed

    September 7, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    what are you talking about? if sunderland is playing fulham, i don’t get excited either. your analogy is flawed. maybe what you’re trying to say is most people are jingoistic and think anyone other than their own country sucks. If that’s the case, that’s their fault, not the sports fault. if you can’t be a neutral when it comes to countries, you have much bigger problems than football to worry about.

    • The Gaffer

      September 7, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      Tony, I can be neutral when it comes to countries, but not everyone is. Most people are jingoistic, I agree. As for Sunderland v Fulham, sign me up! That would be a great match to watch.

      The Gaffer

  11. David

    September 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Despite the injury factor, I do enjoy FIFA International dates. Yes, they are meaningless, but it gives you a chance to see new young players for national teams. Plus, I don’t want to wait for a tournament to see the U.S. play. Speaking of friendlies, it’s too bad the Spain vs Argentina match isn’t on TV in the States. I think that should be an exciting game since both have basically a full strength squad.

  12. Aram

    September 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I don’t mind them, as you get to see amazing sides like Spain play together but I agree with most of what you said. Another thing I have noticed when it comes to International games is the quality of the Television coverage. The camera’s at the Stadiums seem to be still from the 90’s and watching highlites on FSR, most are not shot in HD.

    I think we have been spoiled with the HD coverage of the major tournaments and the EPL, Serie A and La Liga that when these dates come around, it seems like stepping back in time.

  13. Rob McCluskey

    September 7, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    They’re overhyped and over analysed too, I can’t stand them.

    Tournaments are great, I love watching them just because I love football, but the qualifiers are so horrible, I want club football back!

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