Time to take minnows off the international menu

June 15, 2009

SOCCER-WORLD/Now that the dust has settled on the Ronaldo story (at least until he actually signs) I wanted to go back to something that bothered me about last week’s on-field action.

Former England striker Jimmy Greaves summed it up quite well at half-time during England’s 6-0 thrashing of Andorra in a World Cup qualifier.

“Have you ever seen a team this bad at Wembley?” Greaves, one of several members of the 1996 World Cup squad to be given belated winners medals after missing the final, said when interviewed by ITV.

Greaves went on to question the sanity of the near 60,000 fans who bought tickets to watch England beat a side that would struggle to survive in the fourth tier of English club football.

It wasn’t quite what ITV wanted to hear after desperately trying to stoke interest in the miss-match but the outspoken Greaves made a very good point before we were returned hurriedly to the studio.

The likes of Andorra and San Marino may belong to the FIFA family but they offer absolutely nothing to football at this level.

There sole objective is to avoid a double-figure thrashing which they usually achieve by positioning 11 players behind the ball and never venturing over the halfway line.

Apart from the three points pocketed by the teams facing them and the chance for strikers to skew their goalscoring stats the matches are… pointless.

Andorra have managed just three wins in 84 internationals with a combined goal difference of minus 203. San Marino are even worse, having managed just a solitary win in a friendly against Liechtenstein.

It is now time for FIFA and UEFA to act and stop these excuses for games of football.

Nobody is advocating banning them, but a system whereby the minnows must come through a pre-qualifying group before getting to face the big guns would at least weed out the country’s who are just cluttering the schedule.

By playing against nations of a similar standing it might even encourage them to try and score goals and ultimately improve their level of play.


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Posted by Reuters Soccer Blog » Blog Archive » Time to take minnows off the … | Sport Weblog | Report as abusive

I think you make a point, however, I don’t think they’ll ever come a unanimous agreement among all the respective football national bonds as to which teams should need to go through a pre-qualifying group and which ones don’t.Not that it’s up to them, but FIFA/UEFA, I just think without a total one-sided view on this issue there will be a lot of conflict, perhaps even boycotting by certain national footballing bonds from partaking in qualifiers for World Cups and Euro’s.I mean Iceland is by and large a minnow. Yet, the Netherlands(currently #2 on the FIFA World Rankings) played them twice during the WC 2010 qualifiers and showed their superiority over the small island state only in a 4-0 overall scoreline(winning 2-0 on both occasions).FIFA/UEFA will have their work cut out for them if they’re seriously gonna pursue the notion of separating the cream of the crop from the rest. It wouldn’t surprise me though if ultimately they’d rather ignore this problem. Like they’ve always done.

Posted by John Connor | Report as abusive

The England vs Andorra motch last week went beyond being a mismatch. The writer is correct, it should never have happened. The stadium they held the match in – Wembley, obviously! – can hold more than the entire population of Andorra. Surely this is ridiculous? My home town has more people living in it than Andorra can draw upon. These games are a waste of everybody’s time. http://www.loserscomesecond.com/

Posted by Mr Twilight | Report as abusive

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