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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


What’s Wrong With FIFA World Cup Qualifying And How To Fix It

Written by on September 9, 2013 | 9 Comments »
Posted in World Cups

Last week I participated in a video podcast discussion with Kartik Krishnaiyer and Richard Farley for World Soccer Talk (link here).

The recently completed transfer window was front and centre but we also had time to talk about the often tenuous relationship between the international game and clubs. With an international break it made for an interesting discussion and in part highlighted the patch work approach to World Cup qualifying in each region of the globe. But not only is the approach to deciding representatives for Brazil 2014 different from each Confederation the differing methods bring differing levels of …to read more please click on the link.

9 responses to “What’s Wrong With FIFA World Cup Qualifying And How To Fix It”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Bobby, its football, did you expect logic. Lets just say that FIFA and all the federations are all about them. They somehow believe this way brings in the most amount of revenue, so that makes it the most logical. If they could UEFA would extend the process further.

    The real topic is leagues/clubs being responsible for growing the Int’l squads. I’ve had many debates about this, with fellow Portuguese. I’m of the belief that clubs bear no responsibility in developing the Int’l squad. The players themselves bare that responsibility. They need to grow and develop, so they can be called up.
    Benfica and Porto get a lot of grief over their Portuguese player development, but they need/have to be competitive in Europe for the league to grow. I always thought the mid and lower table clubs should be developing local talent and selling it up for profit.

    Rio Ferdinand is appalled, but how does think Man United is able to afford his salary? That huge TV deal helps, and that’s due to importing star talent. If Brits are good enough I’m sure they’ll be picked. People point to Spain and Italy, but I don’t see those leagues getting that big a tv revenue. Even the Bundes is getting accolades, but their tv revenue is nowhere near the BPL’s.

    Do people want leagues to go back to only national players or even limit the amount of foreign players? Do people think this will allow for lower clubs to be more competitive?
    First and foremost all the top players would still go to the top clubs. The top clubs would then nab all the good national players from the mid to lower table clubs.
    Product would actually suffer which would cause lower revenues. Everyone loses.
    Also, like you said, I didn’t see any England WC winners coming out of England when there weren’t any foreign players in the league.

  2. Ed Gomes says:

    Bobby, here’s your answer;

    Blatter said: “Who are we, the Europeans, to demand that this event has to cater to the needs of 800 million Europeans above all, when there are over 7 billion people who populate this planet and of whom 6.2 billion are not European, but who must at all times succumb to our diktat?

    “I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in faraway places, and we must accept that football has moved away from being a European and South American sport: it has become the world sport that billions of fans are excitedly following every week, everywhere in the world.”

    This from the same guy that continuously pockets money by accepting bribes and always accepts the highest bidder. The same guy that told the MLS to change its schedule in order to conform with Europe’s.
    Brazil will get killed due to the shambles they’ve created in hosting the WC. What people don’t get to see is the meddling and corruption brought forth by FIFA. Yes, Brazil is too blame for what’s taken place, but FIFA has only hampered instead of help.

  3. John Bladen says:

    It is shambolic that two of the top 25 ranked nations in the world of football did not reach the 2010 finals while several outside the top 50 did.

    That said, this is about generating revenue… and FIFA surely knows that more eyeballs will be glued to sets if nations from heavily populated confederations “make it”, even at the cost of much more competitive teams. It’s about money, not about football. Blatter has said as much.

    BTW, of the 7Bn people he so selflessly champions as having rights, more than a third live on less than $2/day, so he’s not getting much in the way of rights fees from them. He doesn’t seem to care if they have anything to eat or not… just so long as what little cash they do have gets funnelled to FIFA…

  4. John Bladen says:

    Off topic a bit… but England have now dropped to 17th in the FIFA rankings.

    Question: Are they still overrated at 17th? One vote per person please….

  5. Smiley says:

    “It is shambolic that two of the top 25 ranked nations in the world of football did not reach the 2010 finals while several outside the top 50 did.”

    “… He doesn’t seem to care if they have anything to eat or not”

    Your “empathy and altruism” missed the fact that it’s called a World Cup not Copa America or Euros. And if the likes of a disorganized England or infighting France miss out on an occasional final to make way for a China, Uzbekistan or Ethiopia where their average joe gets an unforgettable summer of hope and joy then so be it.

  6. Ed Gomes says:

    Smiley, I agree that if “big” clubs somehow fail and lesser ones get in, that’s too bad. It’s the format, so we get what we get.
    But people have this misconception “Cinderella” clubs drive up ratings. That may be true if a hugely loved or hated club is matchup against them. If two Cinderella clubs make the final, ratings will plummet.
    I love it when people point to the NFL, and how everyone has a chance to win any weekend. That may be true, but NFL ratings and sales have always increased when there’s at least one dominant club. Nothing drives up ratings more than front runners or haters.

    There’s a reason why “big” clubs get the benefit of the doubt on calls or extra time. People may go nuts, but they’ve earned it. Fair? NO. But it’s the reality.
    FIFA drives this reality with its corruption. The more you hear the noise about Qatar, the more it seems that this was FIFA’s plan all along. Just get the WC and then we’ll move it.
    For countries that complain about Qatar buying the WC, they too were buying. In their proposals, one of the main features is how much money they will generate. Qatar doesn’t have to generate any, since they can pay it upfront.

    Some of Qatar’s public laws;
    “You should dress modestly when in public, including while driving. Women should cover their shoulders and avoid wearing short skirts. Any intimacy in public between men and women (including between teenagers) can lead to arrest.”
    “It is an offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Alcohol is available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system. Don’t carry alcohol around with you”
    “pornography, pork products and religious books and material in Qatar is illegal”

    I can’t wait for Brazil fans to enter Qatar for the games. Not only the scantly clad women, but also all the praying. Which brings to question on how Qatar authorities will deal with so many players praying on the field.

    And there’s this;
    “Homosexual behavior is illegal in Qatar.”

    Whatever happened to the Respect campaign?

  7. Astronomer says:

    You wrote:”Your “empathy and altruism” missed the fact that it’s called a World Cup not Copa America or Euros.”

    Very well-stated.

    This is a point that many, many Europeans (and even some Americans) conveniently forget or overlook.


  8. John Bladen says:

    So wanting the best 32 national sides in the world to compete for the world up is “eurocentric”?

    IF you believe that top ranked (and in any sane person’s judgment, better sides) nations like Russia and Croatia were less deserving of a place in the world cup than DPRK or New Zealand (to name just two), then I don’t believe you understand the basis for the world cup – to bring together the best footballing nations in the world to see who is actually the very best.

    The world cup was never supposed to be about equal representation for every nation/region/population centre. It was supposed to be about the best footballing nations in the world, regardless of where they are located, competing for supremacy.

    Can you explain how including DPRK and New Zealand at the expense of Russia and Croatia (or other higher ranked nations) improved the tournament?

    This last world cup happened to exclude two European sides who were ranked in the top 25 (at the time, IIRC). Previous competitions have excluded some very good African or South American sides in order to include some low ranked Asian nations.

    Pandering to monied interests can be called many things, but it is not altruism.

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    JB, you’re not being politically correct. Everyone is the best and all deserve a shot. Next thing we’ll have is a trophy for all, for participating.

    Let’s not go into how much money flows into people’s pockets that are undeserving, FIFA is right up there in most corrupt organizations in the world. The funniest thing is how they can’t even hide it, and just shrug their shoulders at all questions.
    What’s going on in Brazil is a travesty. The sad part is how more money will funnel to pockets for the Olympics as well.

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