WC 2006

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Alan McCabe
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WC 2006

Post by Alan McCabe » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:45 pm

I know its not strictly Scottish-related, but I was wondering whether anyone shared my view that the WC Finals seem to have become incredibly lob-sided in their representative make-up.
With UEFA increasing its membership quota markedly over the past dozen or so years, it seems strange that its qualifiers account for only 44% of the finalists in Germany as opposed to say 63% of the 16 participants at Argentina '78.
Forgetting our own woeful experience at that event, it is none the less quite revealing when you look at Finals Groups such Italy, Argentina, France & Hungary or Brazil, Spain, Sweden & Austria.
What has WC 2006 conjured up in comparison? A turgid looking assortment of groupings that appear little more than practice exercises for some of the stronger nations, that's what!
Irrespective of FIFA's globalisation of the world's most popular game and its efforts to appease all those trumped-up corrupt bureaucrats scattered around the planet, the WC Finals have become way too reliant on the 'lesser' regions.
Wheras Mexico historically had a veritable bye to all WC Finals due to the collective weaknesses of their regional opponents, this list of guaranteed finalists has mushroomed in recent years. Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and the USA have all joined this elite group with further nations such as Costa Rica and Iran knocking on the door.
Whilst this list includes a few that have embarassed ourselves in the past, should FIFA not be gearing the WC Finals to encompass more genuine tournament challengers and fewer 'Tourist XIs'?
Even under Vogts we managed to easily beat Trinidad & Tobago, yet a convoluted qualifying process allowed the 'Socca Warriors' to reach Germany despite finishing a distant fourth in Concacaf's Final Group competition, this region arguably being FIFA's poorest outwith the lottery that constitutes Oceania.
And with that in mind, New Zealand must be rubbing their hands in anticipation of a qualifying region free of Australia, since the 'Socceroos' will be in the Asian region for South Africa 2010. The 'Kiwis' will virtually ensure a play-off for the main event simply by turning up!!!
With worthy competitors such as Greece (reigning Euro Champs), Turkey (3rd at WC 2002), Denmark, Russia, Rumania, Belgium, Norway, Bulgaria and the Republic of Ireland all absent, and us of course, I reckon UEFA should be lobbying for a much fairer quota of qualifiers given the fact that European nations tend to dominate (along with Brazil & Argentina) the later stages of WC Finals tournaments.
Since tournament enlargement in 1982, the quarter-finals have consisted almost exclusively of UEFA nations and the South American 'big two' :-
1982 (no quarter-finals ; 3 Groups of 4 nations) 10 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina
1986 5 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina + MEXICO (hosts)
1990 6 UEFA plus Argentina + CAMEROON
1994 7 UEFA plus Brazil
1998 6 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina
2002 4 UEFA plus Brazil + SENEGAL, SOUTH KOREA (hosts) & USA
All in, from a combined total of 52 quarter-finalists, UEFA have produced 38, Brazil & Argentina collectively 9 and only 5 from all the other regions combined (these five including two host countries).
So where should UEFA go with this? Should our own administrators not be lobbying for a more representative quota for the 'greatest show on earth'?
Wouldn't England and Sweden not feel that wee bit less confident if they had been bracketed with say Turkey and Rumania? That's what the WC should be about....the best 24 nations on the planet augmented by 8 regional qualifiers giving a true representation of the global game whilst also minimising romantic mismatches.
Irrespective of those nonsense world rankings, everyone knows that Europe contains most of the best teams. Lets get a WC format that reflects it!

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Post by bobby s » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:09 pm

I'd tend to agree with you, but, the only way I can see that a fair qualification process could be organised is if the regional aspect of it is done away with entirely, or partly?
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Re: WC 2006

Post by Lisbon67 » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:14 pm

Alan McCabe wrote:Since tournament enlargement in 1982, the quarter-finals have consisted almost exclusively of UEFA nations and the South American 'big two' :-
1982 (no quarter-finals ; 3 Groups of 4 nations) 10 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina
1986 5 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina + MEXICO (hosts)
1990 6 UEFA plus Argentina + CAMEROON
1994 7 UEFA plus Brazil
1998 6 UEFA plus Brazil & Argentina
2002 4 UEFA plus Brazil + SENEGAL, SOUTH KOREA (hosts) & USA
There' another way to look at that and bear in mind that the UEFA figure includes hosts for 1982 1990 and 1998.

1982 usual suspects
1986 Mexico break through to last eight which they didn't do when they hosted in 1970
1990 First African quarter-finalists
1994 7 UEFA in the last 8 but not the winner
1998 Usual suspects
2002 Five continents represented in the last eight, lowest ever number of UEFA quarter-finalists. Were the non-UEFA quarter-finalists weaker than European teams not good enough to qualify? Look at their record against the ones that did get there

Senegal beat holders France, drew with Denmark, beat Sweden, lost to Turkey in extra time

USA beat Portugal, lost to Poland (after they had already qualified), lost narrowly and controversially to Germany

South Korea beat Poland, beat Portugal, beat Italy, beat Spain

Additionally South Africa beat Slovenia, Costa Rica drew with Turkey, Cameroon drew with Ireland, Nigeria drew with England, Ecuador beat Croatia, Mexico drew with Italy, Japan beat Russia, drew with Belgium, Tunisia drew with Belgium, Paraguay beat Slovenia. Seems to me that countries outside the traditional two "big" continents have improved over the past 30 years.

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Post by Scottish » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:37 pm

I just had a look at what I wrote after the 2002 tournament and I don't think I'd change much of it http://www.scottishleague.net/archive/archive42.htm

Especially the over-representation of Conmebol & Asian countries. The guaranteed European representation has dropped from 14 in 198 to 13.5 in 2002 to 13 this time (not including hosts). My view is that there is one Asian and one South American too many.

Can't agree about Concacaf being the weakest. Their teams had some extraordinary results last time and in 1990 Costa Rica did for the Swedes as well as us. A fourth place will test their strength in depth for sure but the performances of their three countries in Japan/Korea merited giving them the chance - remember the 4th Concacaf place is via a play-off with Asia, not of right.

The Asians are the weakest IMHO. I expect them to revert to pre-2002 at the coming tournament.

A fairer way of distributing places would be
UEFA 14
Conmebol 3
Concacaf 3
CAF 5
Oceania 1
AFC 3

That leaves two places up for grabs in play-offs and these should be Europe v AFC and Conmebol v Concacaf

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Post by Scottish » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:51 pm

Meant to add this

What are the World rankings for? In other sports these determine seedings at major tournaments such as tennis or rugby or entry qualification as in both tennis and golf.

It seems the FIFA rankings serve no other prupose other than to serve the gut-rot soft drinks company which sponsors them.

Even Wimbledon which goes out of its way to accord Tim Henman a higher seeding than his rankings justify wouldn't pull the kind of stunt that sees the Czechs (No 2) and the Dutch (3) dropped from top seed status to accommodate the more populous England (9) and Italy (12). The other to drop out are the Americans (8) big but largely uninterested population and the other included are the hosts Germany (16)

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Post by bobby s » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:33 pm

Current FIFA rankings

top 32 teams are:

16 UEFA
5 South America
3 North America
4 Asia
4 Africa
I reckon

http://www.fifa.com/en/mens/statistics/ ... 05,00.html

Sounds a bit unrealistic to me...

Why no have regional down to last 64 then seeded from there to whittle it down to 32?

Interestingly, or not, In 33-64 I reckon there are another 14 UEFA teams.
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Post by bobby s » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:44 pm

Does the panel believe that confederations should be represented on the basis of quantity of members or on quality of members?

Conmebol are the most over represented on quantity aren't they? Oceania are presumably the most under represented on quantity.
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Post by Scottish » Sun Dec 11, 2005 7:59 pm

Both. Yes, you should aim to have the best teams in the world but there should at least be representation from every continent. Financially I don't think it's practicable to have all-in qualifiers. I like the idea of regional to 64 then all-in but fear what would happen in practice. It would be like the Champions League with the big boys guaranteed a presence. I feel FIFA would love a system which guaranteed participation for certain countries and worry that they would use any radical restructuring of the qualification process to end up with a system that gave permanent guaranteed places to the favoured few. Instead of 31 qualifying places there would be around 24 or 25.

While we can all laugh at the rankings they provide the only kind of guide we have to current status and comparing continent with continent even if they persist with the ridiculous notion that Europe and South America are equal (other than at the very top they're not, Europe is far stronger in the middling ranks and South America has no Faeroes or Liechtensteins).

But they are far more flawed than in other sports. A boxer ranked two will usually get a shot at a boxer rankned one sooner or later. In tennis and golf Federer and Woods have to go up against their challengers 20 or 30 times a year to establish their status. Yet in football the two most successful countries in World Cup history had never played each other once in a competitive match until the Final of 2002.

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Post by bobby s » Sun Dec 11, 2005 8:51 pm

It's not an exact science, but I reckon looking at the current world rankings of 205 teams the lowest current ranked teams who have qualified for a world cup finals are:

120 El Salvador
118 New Zealand
101 Northern Ireland
96 Bolivia
91 Haiti
88 United Arab Emirates
87 Canada
85 North Korea
82 Algeria

What's Zaire called these days? What's the Dutch Indies called?

The FIFA ranked teams 100 upwards to pre qualifying, then whittle the teams down to 64 and do 4 team groups from which 2 qualify...the worlds a small place and surely it's better than play 14-18 qualifying games for the teams that actually have a chance of qualifying?

Surely some kind of pre qualification would make sense?
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Post by Alan McCabe » Mon Dec 12, 2005 12:03 am

Zaire is now the Democratic Republic of Congo whilst the Dutch East Indies is present day Indonesia.
The only reason I started this debate was to see if anyone agreed that the whole principal of a World Cup competition was being undermined by a concerted effort to please various regional delegates scattered around the globe.
I seem to recall hearing that FIFA has more members than even the United Nations possess, so its no wonder politics plays such a key part in proceedings.
This is underlined by FIFA's own WC 2006 Finals draw procedures which really make a mockery of the legitimacy of their own loudly heralded ranking list. The seeding system used for the ballot in Leipzig was reliant on "taking sports, geographic and economic factors into consideration", this being a direct quote from their own tournament rules.
I would have thought that only the sporting factor needs consideration but seeing as too many global companies have too much to gain from the exposure to the enormous worldwide TV audience, its no surprise that "economic factors" are amongst the criteria.
That's exactly why Holland the Czech Republic are not top seeds!
All the hugely populated nations (with the obvious exception of the USA where the sport still has a minority following) are grouped as top seeds as FIFA manipulate the system to gain as much advertising revenue as is possible.
"Economic factors" or downright corruption? Doesn't exactly do the creditability of their much vaunted Rankings much good, eh?
David Yallop's book "How They Stole The Game" is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the way the game's hierarchy conduct themselves.

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Post by Scottish » Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:08 am

I'd agree with a lot of that but I do feel it's important for every croner of the world to be represented to some extent in the Finals. To use the Scottish Cup as an analogy, if the Qualifying competition had been an all-in affair until Highland league clubs started to be admitted to the Scottish League in 1994 then just about every qualifying place would have been taken by HL clubs with the EoS and SoS leagues scarcely featuring.

There is a grave danger in simply featuring the 'best' sides. You can bet FIFA will find a way to permanently include the big countries, exclude the minnows to the pre-qualifying margins and let the rest battle it out for the right to play against the 'giants.'

In other words the World Cup would adopt the Champions League format.

By excluding geographical factors you are also in effect excluding the likes of T&T to take part in the Finals. USA 1 England 0, North Korea 1 Italy 0, Algeria 2 West Germany 1. Forget all that. None of those countries would have qualified for the Finals without a geographic consideration.

















Then again neither would Iran or Costa Rica

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