Danny Peacock September 22, 2021

When asked about a bi-annual World Cup, Paul Merson of all those spoke with most reason for me, saying simply enough, “you can remember the winners of the 1986 World Cup, but you will struggle harder to remember the winners of the 1986 European Cup” a competition diluted in quality and distinction over the years down largely to the fact it’s played over a stretched out minimum 13 matches against the same old teams every bloody season.

Arsene Wenger might think it’s a great idea, he might also be being paid an awful lot to think this, FIFA think it’s great, they see the $$$ signs that more teams, more games, more regularity of tournaments, more sponsors can bring, but the World Cup is special, like the Olympics, like the Ryder Cup, like the Euros, because it’s not played every blinking year.

I see no argument that 27-year-olds might think ‘this’ will be their last, a World Cup is special because… Not everyone can play in it, this is why we respect, love, and enjoy it so much… Cameroon verses Colombia was great in 1990, but we don’t want it every year or two.

Cristiano Ronaldo also dispels the myth of age… Anyone remember Roger Milla?

Next up is a 48 team World Cup… There’s little over 200 nations in the world, a good quarter of those have populations less than a million, we are now talking a quarter of the teams entering making the finals, which in hindsight isn’t horrendous for those lesser nations to be involved with the glitz and glamour, but like the Olympics, we won’t be watching the early stages of track and field, until at least it gets into the nitty and gritty. FIFA will realise one day, that the majority of the teams involved in international football, nobody cares about watching.

Which questions me why would they increase the tournament finals in numbers for any other reason than money? The 32-team tournament near perfect prior to knockout stages from the round of sixteen… 48 teams equal more games, more mess, the 24 team Euros for example is pretty crap, much better when it was a straight sixteen and when teams knew their destiny from the off, but like FIFA, UEFA moved the goalposts for more teams, more games, leading to more money too, which it seems is what it’s all about?

So why mess with something special and make it more regular? FIFA’s proposals are for more football of the highest level, but increasing the number of games surely the level of football quality decreases? Already we have club teams playing cup competitions with Reserve, under-23 and youth players dominant to ensure enough ‘rest’ for their stars… Internationally England played in Hungary and completely changed their XI for their next match verses Andorra, a complete ‘B’ team, still good enough to win at a canter, before switching back to the original XI to face Poland… Who wins out of all this? Andorra for getting to play England B? Certainly not the fans who are asked to travel from Budapest to London to Warsaw within seven days??

The truth is, the decisions to base football around money above all, is having a despairing effect on the game, the fans, the mental health and wellbeing of the players asked to perform like circus exhibits, every blinking time. Two games a week will soon be three, no rest in the summer, we’ll all be footballed out and nobody will know (or care) who wins what because everybody will be winning everything every bloody week.

To Gianni, and co, I say don’t do it… Don’t tinker with the beautiful game, don’t increase the amount of football we see because half of the football we watch is already crap.

LIVE Sky Sports screenings of Norwich Reserves verses Liverpool Reserves in the EFL Cup will vouch for that… Endless England qualifiers against micro-nations will vouch for it… The Champions League formality of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Muncich, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City, Liverpool, PSG, perhaps Porto, getting through group stages ‘EVERY’ bloody year… Let’s wipe it all up, cut out the crap, get to the business end, because it’s all becoming a bit too repetitive..

I’m all for change within the FIFA calendar and I’m all for promoting International football, but football needs come together to work collectively, for the improvement of the game, and not for the silver that can be lined in the pockets of those already rich enough.

International football needs streamlining, serious qualification for confederation tournaments which are kept every four years and kept special as subsidiaries to the World Cup, think of them as a little brother or sister… Then serious qualification for a reasonably sized world cup… Finally, the best teams in each confederation can play in a FIFA backed Olympic tournament that isn’t age restricted… But let us not waste our time… Please don’t make England play San Marino, Lithuania, Andorra, Luxembourg, for the right to play in these major tournaments, but ensure these smaller countries earn their right on merit, even give them their own tournaments and a shot at some silverware…

Football has always been about levels and unfair advantage makes for a pretty boring spectacle… And by highlighting this with even more international football, rather than having something special every four years, you’ll have something not so special a lot more often… Call me a traditionalist, but some things, like Christmas, are never worth changing!

If we had presents and minced pies every week, they would soon become boring!

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