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Michel Platini has tarnished the European qualifiers process

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The European Championship qualifiers are well upon us again as top domestic leagues throughout Europe shut down for a week.

The excitement to go and cheer on your national team is at fever pitch as you pray for all three points going into the latter stages of the group games.

However, this qualification process for Euro 2016 to be held in France has been for want of a better word rather pedestrian.

Instead of having the regular 16 teams qualify, the next Euros will see an inflated 24 teams take part – almost half of all European nations registered with UEFA.

This has meant lopsided groups- so it may be fun to see the likes of last year’s World Cup semi finalists the Netherlands in third place and six points behind their group leaders Czech Republic.

And it may be interesting to see a rising Belgium team loaded with young talent currently out in fourth place in Group B. Further more the usually dominant Germans are making do with second place behind Poland in Group D.

The truth is these nations all of whom are used to topping their groups with ease, can ease up even more.

Are the Germans really bothered that they drew 1-1 at home to Republic of Ireland or that they saw through a nervy 2-1 victory over Scotland? If they know that finishing third still gives you a chance of qualification.

The better teams can, if they choose and with all intended respect due to lesser footballing nations, not come out of second gear- there are now no mad dashes to secure first place, which before this qualification process was the only guaranteed return to be playing at the Euro’s.

With added pressure for these international players to be on top form for their clubs in the Champions League, this new qualification method set out by UEFA president Michel Platini gives teams much more leverage in how to approach qualifying.

The decision from UEFA to increase the Euro’s by eight teams was made in Bordeaux seven years ago, and broken to the media by Franz Beckenbauer.

Platini had been UEFA President for less than two years when his ideas to increase the competition to 24 teams was given the green light.

However, in doing so he has questionably made the qualifying process which lasts for a whole year dull and uninspiring.

Will we, for example ever see super nations like England, France or the Netherlands not qualify again?

His decision also spelled the end for smaller nations to host the competition in the future. With so many teams (just eight short of the World Cup finals) participating it seems highly unlikely that a smaller European nation would be able to cope with the infrastructure and tournament details to host a successful competition.

Of course for the likes of Scotland, Wales and many other nations who have failed time and again to qualify for major tournaments it is good news. But one can only assume that Platini’s idea was so heavily backed by these nations because of this.

It has yet to be seen of course how this will affect the Euro competition. Though one could arguably point to the World Cup as an example.

Once that tournament increased from 24 teams to 32 the finals have never quite been the same since and you end up with many fixtures that are either only attractive to said supporters of those nations or dead rubbers.

For now the qualification process almost feels like an extended commercial break until we get the real deal, and get back to domestic soccer matters.

 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. NaBUru38

    March 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    24 teams at the Eurocup is fine. The issue here is the qualifying format. Splitting 53 teams into 9 groups is a terrible idea, very few matches are interesting.

    There should be a Division 1 with 36 teams split in 6 groups. The top 3 in each group would qualify. The best fourth placed teams would play a repechage, and the bottom 4 teams would be relegated to Division 2.

    Then a Division 2 would comprise the remaining 17 teams, split in 3 groups. The top team in each group would qualify for a total 21, and the top 4 would be promoted to Division 1.

  2. Doug McQuaid

    March 27, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Ya, teams just coast in 2nd gear. Because that’s how managers keep their job, and players remain in the starting 11…

    Also, in what World is it GOOD to see giants miss the tournament? I’m sure the hosts that need to turn a profit LOVE it when teams like England don’t qualify…

    Ridiculous article.

  3. Daniel

    March 27, 2015 at 1:34 am

    I dont enjoy the international breaks either,but your article is totaly wrong.there is no bad reason to make 24 countries for the euros just as there is no bad reason why there shouldnt be 48 teams in the world cup.the only way to get better is to play better teams.

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