Football 1 year ago

My take on FIFA's 48 Team World Cup

  • My take on FIFA's 48 Team World Cup

    FIFA president Gianni Infantino poses as he arrives for The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony, on January 9, 2017 in Zurich. / AFP / MICHAEL BUHOLZER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images)

The history of the World Cup is rich. Stories of great struggles, incredible qualifications, magnificent battles and glorious victories. 

Every nation that has played at a World Cup has a story that will transcend generations. For me, the Socceroos team of '06 will be the one that stands head and shoulders above the rest of Australia's World Cup teams. 

FIFA unanimously, and quite surprisingly, voted to expand the competition to 48 teams, a 16 team increase on the competition format that has been in place since 1998. This decision was met with worldwide criticism from well before the vote took place.

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I'm still stunned. I cannot believe FIFA is opting to ditch the current format and instead voting for more money. It is predicted they will earn $1 billion more than the last couple of tournaments. 

I think of the poverty stricken favelas in Brazil, next door to lavish hotels housing the world's best players.
I think of the families of the workers dying in Qatar and the poor working conditions they are forced to labour in.
I think of female footballers who struggle to earn a decent living despite being some of the best players in the world. 
I think of the teams being wrongfully charged thousands upon thousands for wearing poppies to remember their fallen soldiers.

The love of money is the root of all evil. And I'm pretty sure we can 'unanimously' agree that FIFA is the epitome of that statement, and of no benefit to the world of football when issues of the game and the world are being flatly ignored. 

If we're expected to have 48 teams at a world cup, I say that the world deserves a large chunk of the pie to help develop football. 

I don't see the money being invested back into the world. I see it as another way for FIFA to fill their greedy pockets yet again. Many more smaller nations will qualify for a world cup, only to most likely be sent back after the extremely shortened group stages.

The quality of football and the efforts of teams will be greatly decreased, reducing the once glorious spectacle to the same ilk of rubbish reality tv shows.

After controversially awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively, FIFA has once again taken a step back. We've experienced some fantastic tournaments ever since the increase to 32 teams in 1998, I don't see the need for 48 teams in a World Cup. 

Logistically, it becomes a nightmare. How many countries have the capacity to host 48 national team? Surely not a country as tiny as the gulf state of Qatar, the 2022 hosts, which is to have "the most compact World Cup in history". 

It looks like it'll have to be a joint bid, or just a geographically big country, which makes for a hell of a time travelling for fans. USA, Canada and Mexico are preparing an unprecedented 3 way bid. While the North American nations would put on a spectacle, doubts are cast over the unstable relationship between Mexico and USA, and how that may or may not negatively affect a co-hosted tournament

The group stages would be shortened to 3 teams, therefore degrading the opportunity for smaller nations to showcase themselves on the world stage. Who wants to play a whole qualification campaign to be sent home after merely 2 matches at the World Cup?

On top of that, FIFA want to eliminate the 2 leg intercontinental playoffs in favour of a 6 team mini tournament right before the World Cup, finalising the qualified teams much closer to the tournament. It's a move that is said to put the Confederations Cup's future at risk. 

Certain confederations are already ill represented at the World Cup, and this expansion will be dominated by Europe's 16 places. That's essentially the entire 2012 UEFA Euro Championship teams all competing at the World Cup.

I'm yet to see positives. FIFA was embroiled in controversy during Sepp Blatter's reign as president, but now I don't think I have any faith in the governing body whatsoever. 

I hold out hope that one day I'll be able to see the positives on both sides. But as it stands, there's only one winner here. 

And it sure isn't us. 

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