September 27, 2008

The more the merrier?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

FIFA recently decided to expand the field of the European Championship finals from 16 to 24 teams and the question I’m asking is why? With a 16-team field only the best qualifiers would be able to compete for the second highest honour in international soccer (behind the World Cup of course). Now, with 24 teams able to vie for the cup, the importance on qualifying is lessened and so is the drama.

If the field for Euro 2008 had been 24 teams, then England would have qualified even though they were undeserving of the opportunity. Also, the drama and direness of their match with Croatia — that ultimately bounced them – wouldn’t have been there and that would have been an added disappointment.

Adding teams to the tournament doesn’t mean adding good teams with a chance to win it all. It adds second and third tier teams that ultimately just give the powerhouses a better chance to warm up, mesh and hit their stride. These lesser teams also reduce the probability of having fantastic “groups of death,” like the one that contained France, Italy, Netherlands and Romania. Sub in a team like Finland and that’s not so frightening now is it?

FIFA had a good thing going with the Euro tournament, the perfect midway marker between World Cups. Now, it risks being watered down by inflation so they can rake in some more money at the gates. Granted, I’ll still be watching, but those Bulgaria-Norways match ups might not be enough for me to wake up to watch.

Leave a Reply