FIFA World Cup: Third-Place Play-Off #FIFAcom #WorldCup

Tomorrow, England face Belgium in “the game that no one wants to play in”: the third-place play-off of the FIFA World Cup. Of course, nobody would choose to lose in a semi-final and then be forced to degrade themselves in a match which is, in effect, a glorified and largely pointless friendly.

However, getting to the semi-finals and then going out is nothing to be ashamed of. And I’m not just saying that because I’m English. It is a phenomenal achievement and ranks you among the elites of the sport. Furthermore, a medal is of course up for grabs. Okay, it may be bronze and not gold, but it is still a medal.

So, to recognise that winning the third-place play-off is indeed an achievement to be proud of, I suggest we change its name of the match to something catchier, something which reflects the respect which it deserves: The Bronze Final.

But to the unfortunate loser of this match? I think a souvenir mug with Sepp Blatter’s face printed on it would be a nice consolation prize.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://hdwarena.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Colorful-FIFA-Logo-1428×1080.jpg

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Football World Cup and Olympics Host Nation Idea

Putin

The 2016 Rio Olympics are a shambles. The stadiums aren’t ready, people are dying. It’s a joke. Sounds eerily familiar, though, doesn’t it? Step forward, Qatar 2022! There have even been rumblings that Qatar could be stripped of the World Cup (although that won’t happen, of course). Now Russia has been banned from the 2016 Olympics for endemic, state-sponsored doping — yet Russia will host the next football world cup in 2018!

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The ancient Panathenaic Stadium in Greece.

It’s clear that the two biggest sporting events in the world, the Olympics and the Football World Cup, have become a joke. Given the cultural, political, and economic importance of these two events, things need to be fundamentally addressed. The whole bidding process was always open to corruption. After all, if one side has something (the event) that the other side desperately wants to host, then the risk of corruption is ever-present. But now the bribes and cheating have gone well beyond having lunch and a selfie with Wills and Becks.

So how can we fix the in-built risk of corruption involved in the host nation bidding systems? Here’s a suggestion.

  1. Let any nation put forward a bid, but only those nations that already have adequate infrastructure at the time of placing their bid will be considered. If that means every other World Cup or Olympic Games is held in England, France, or Germany, so be it.
  2. Do away with bidding altogether: the nations that put their name forward (above) are put into a hat; the name pulled out of the hat hosts the tournament. The only proviso: nations cannot go into the hat if they hosted the last games (So no London 2012, London 2016, London 2020, and so on).

Or we could just go back to the original idea of the Modern Olympics: host every single Olympic Games in Greece, in the Panathenaic Stadium. Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics; England, the birthplace of football: you know who should host every World Cup!

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://vipmedia.globalnews.ca/2014/03/putin-sochi-march-8.jpg?w=672&h=448&crop=1

image of the Panathenaic Stadium from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panathenaic_Stadium

Euro 2016: The Review

UEFA_Euro_2016_Logo_svgBack in 2007, I scoffed at Euro 2012 being awarded to Ukraine and Poland. I mean, they didn’t have the infrastructure. And Ukraine at least was full of violent ultras. I kept scoffing right up until kick-off. How wrong I was. It turned out that Euro 2012 was the best Euros I have seen in my life. Who can forget the high-scoring matches (4-1, 3-2, 3-1, 4-0, 3-2, 4-2) including the 4-0 final victory by Spain or Spain being the first nation to retain the Henri Delaunay trophy?

It perfected the format. It felt that the Euros had finally come of age.

So I was disgusted that Euro 2016 would expand to 24 teams. I said it would water down the tournament. Third place teams qualifying for the next round? This is as ridiculous as the bloated farce that the Europa League and the Champions League have become. Sure, there are more “countries” than ever in Europe including latterly the likes of Gibraltar, so an expanded format makes sense on the face of it. But of course it’s all about money, not giving a fair chance to all nations. A 24 team tournament always seemed a step too far.

I was delighted to be proven wrong about 2012; I am disappointed to be proven right by 2016. What a turgid affair these Euros were.

Firstly, the idea that a team finishing third in a group should go onto lift the trophy, when they would have been eliminated in every other instantiation of the competition in history, is not the stuff of fairy stories; it’s straight up ridiculous. No offence to Portugal, but drawing all three of your group matches is not what inspires my dreams. Indeed, of Portugal’s seven matches, they only won one in the 90 minutes — their semi-final against Wales!

Portugal’s win exemplified the tournament as a whole; it was a boring win in a boring, lifeless competition. I could barely stay awake during the final.

UEFA talk about how their new format gave us the gems of Wales and Iceland. And it’s true; Wales and Iceland were pretty much the only good things about the tournament. But in all fairness, Wales and Iceland both came second in their qualifying groups and would have ended up qualifying even if there were only sixteen teams in the finals. Indeed, Northern Ireland, another minnow, topped their qualifying group.

UEFA_Euro_2016_qualifying_map_svg

Who *didn’t* qualify for Euro 2016??

The ridiculousness of the current format is exemplified by this graphic: blues qualified, yellows didn’t.

We might as well just go whole hog, dispense with the qualifying campaign, and divide the 53 teams into groups of four (perhaps with an initial pre-qualifying round for the lowest six ranked nations so as to make it an even 48*, or else add another side for 54). Then run it more-or-less like the Champions League. Perhaps with a second group round.

Sounds stupid, but why not?

They’re already moving away from the host nation format with Euro 2020 which will be hosted across Europe. Why not just carry it on. The whole thing can be a bloated, never-ending, money-making mess exhibition of football at its purest! If UEFA cared about football, there would be sixteen teams in the finals. At a stretch, twenty teams. If we’re really pushing it out, second and third placed teams could play-off (in a 16 or 20 team format) leading to another round before the quarters. But 24 teams? Third place teams going through on draws. No way.

Congratulations to Portugal, but nobody is going to remember this tournament.

*This would also gives us the mini-comp “Champion of the Minnows”, where the likes of San Marino and Gibraltar would duke it out to qualify at all

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

images from Wikipedia

Introduce Sin Bins in Football #SoccerSinBin @FA @FIFAcom @UEFAcom

FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-MAN UTD

In Rugby they have this great thing called the “sin bin”. If you get a yellow card, you are sent off for ten minutes. I think this must be introduced into association football. ASAP.

First, there’s too much nonsense in football nowadays. Players just gob off to the ref and act like proper plonkers on a minutely basis. The Laws of the Game give referees the power to give out yellow and/or red cards for unsporting behaviour or dissent. But refs seldom do.

LAW 12
… A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences:
* unsporting behaviour
* dissent by word or action
* persistent infringement of the Laws of the Games …
A player … is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
* using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures

But second, even if refs did book every wally, like, whatevz. A yellow card does nothing. What’s that gonna discourage? Send those players off for ten or fifteen minutes, on the other hand… Might learn ’em good. Might straighten out football a bit.

FOOTBALL. SIN BIN. YES.

#SoccerSinBin

© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://b.smimg.net/13/35/liverpool-manchester-united_4.jpg

Roy Keane: More Evil Than Hitler #roykeane @roy_keane_Esq @ManUtd #mufc

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The year was 2000, and I was 15 years old. I was watching a football match. Some random team against Manchester United. Roy Keane, Man United captain, decided to flip out for no reason, as usual, and get in the referee’s face. Aggressive and with split flying everywhere, screaming at the arbitrator, shoving him, and forehead marching the ref backwards. If he’d done that in the street, he would’ve been knocked on his arse. But this was football, and therefore par for the course.

It might even have been this match that caused me to snap

It might even have been this match that caused me to snap

Witnessing this, something broke inside me. I just couldn’t bear to watch these overgrown children, these arrogant spoilt petulant idiots getting in the face of refs and being twattish anymore.

That was the moment I fell out of love with football. Indeed, it turned me off all sport. It was only in 2006 that I started to get back into sport.

This turning away from sport had rather unfortunate timing, though.

I did not watch the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The only World Cup I have missed since watching my first one, South Africa 1995. The only World Cup England have won.

I did not watch the 2003-04 football season. The one where Arsenal broke history by going through a whole season unbeaten: the so-called “invincibles”, the peak moment in Arsenal FC’s history.

Yes, Roy Keane prompted my sporting crisis and made me miss the greatest moments for my club and country that will ever happen. I can never get those moments back.

And that is why I hate Roy Keane. That is why Roy Keane is more evil than Hitler.

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© 2015 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.themag.co.uk/assets/2012/06/roykeane1.jpg
Roy Keane confronting referee image from http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/37996000/jpg/_37996255_keano150.jpg
Ryan Giggs quote image from http://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-roy-keane-is-damien-the-devil-incarnate-off-the-film-the-omen-he-s-evil-even-in-training-ryan-giggs-105-2-0239.jpg