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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Shouldn't the World Cup Involve the BEST Teams In The World ?

This has been bugging me for a while now and yes, I know it's an old argument, but shouldn't the finals of the World Cup be contested by the best football teams in the world ?

Up until very recently I have always agreed with the concept of allowing more teams from the emerging football nations to compete and this has, as Sepp Blatter and others have noted, resulted in increased popularity for the sport and increased skill levels among the 'lesser' countries.

However, once again Saudi Arabia have qualified as top of their group after a victory on Aug 17th, 2005 over a below par South Korea. You may not remember this but Saudi Arabia were in the same group as Germany and The Republic of Ireland in the 2002 World Cup Finals and were hammered 8-0 by the Germans in the opening game. Essentially, they were cannon fodder for the rest of the group and I don't doubt that the same will happen this time around.

Is it really in football's best interests to have teams like the Saudis competing in the finals when far superior teams will not even qualify ? Clearly not. Fans want to see the World's best nations competing in the World Cup Finals regardless of where they are from. Surely, it is time to put back the clock and give more qualifying places to the best teams.

The fact that these are mostly European based is irrelevant except to the likes of Blatter who has long been in a power struggle with UEFA and its executive. It's time to put pointless politicking aside and allow what are truly the best footballing countries in the world to compete in the finals. I accept that it isn't going to happen in the 2006 competition, but surely allowing teams like Saudi Arabia at the expense of teams like Holland (who failed to qualify in 2002) devalues the tournament. It's time this stopped.


posted by mark_s at 5:24 PM


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