The 48-team FIFA World Cup will be a good thing

Michael DiFabrizio Columnist

By Michael DiFabrizio, Michael DiFabrizio is a Roar Expert

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194 Have your say

    To say FIFA made some folks angry this week would be an understatement. The decision to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams prompted a seething response.

    The most popular comments to a post on the FIFA Facebook page included: “FIFA needs to be boycotted”, “what a bunch of money grabbing morons FIFA really are!” and “congrats on destroying football and the World Cup just for the money you basterds (sic).”

    Reading the responses to this FIFA Tweet, apart from learning how to swear in 14 languages, I couldn’t find a single fan of the call despite hundreds weighing in.

    “Making a 48-team World Cup is like inviting your aunts, uncles and grandpa for [your] 18th b-day. It’s only going to be fun when they leave,” wrote one wisecracking gentleman.

    It went on and on like this.

    When deciding on a new format for the 2026 World Cup, the FIFA Council was unanimous on 48 teams. The response has been unanimous, too.

    Well, almost unanimous. I read about the new format and found myself in the awkward position of not quite being in the same boat as everyone else.

    Yes, it’s a big change. Yes, it has the appearance of being purely financially motivated.

    But maybe – just maybe – it’s actually a good thing the World Cup is going to feature more of, you know, the world.

    Australians know what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. And we can all confirm that yes, the event does take on extra significance when we have the privilege of being able to watch the Socceroos take on the world’s best.

    Matthew Leckie Australia Socceroos 2016 Football

    On a macro level, it’s hard to see how inviting more nations in won’t increase significance to many more people.

    Some say the change weakens prestige and importance. The opposite may in fact be true.

    The idea that teams will go through all the preparation required for a World Cup and then leave after two matches has also been a point of contention.

    But even in the 32-team format, you get the odd few teams who deserve to be put on a plane after two matches.

    Under the new model, 32 teams will still play a minimum of three games, which makes you feel this change isn’t as drastic as it’s being made out.

    Concerns for the players have also been highlighted, but again, the level of change is being overblown here too. The length of the tournament stays the same and teams still play a maximum of seven matches.

    From an entertainment viewpoint, the 48-team format is a winner because do-or-die matches arrive earlier in the tournament.

    Then there’s the romance of nations who might’ve previously looked at qualification as an impossible dream, but as of now can dare to believe in that dream.

    It’s a good bet the new format will produce more minnow fairytales.

    Oh, and yes, there’s the money. FIFA stand to make more of it. At this point, nothing about that should shock you.

    Even so, something tells me the mood might be a little more enthusiastic come 2026.

    Michael DiFabrizio
    Michael DiFabrizio

    Michael DiFabrizio is based in Mildura, Victoria. He has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, leading to appearances on ABC News 24 and in the Age. Follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelDiFab.

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    The Crowd Says (194)

    • Roar Rookie

      January 12th 2017 @ 5:33am
      Stevo said | January 12th 2017 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      A sensible article at last. The sky won’t fall in. FIFA has expanded the number of participating teams from 16 through to 24 and then 32 in 1998. With the growth of the game in Africa and Asia and the Europeans and North/South America hardly likely to give up spots then an expanded competition is the only way to go. I’ll be fine and exciting as always. Chill out and back to the A-league tonight.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 7:37am
        punter said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

        John Oliver an English TV host in the US told his American audience that giving the world cup to Qatar was like holding the next Super Bowl in a swimming pool, yet in 5 weeks time when the WC starts in Brazil (2014), we will be following it with the same passion we have watched it every other time.
        Yes the sky won’t fall in.

        • Roar Guru

          January 12th 2017 @ 9:45am
          Cameron Kellett said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

          Good. John Oliver had better be in Qatar and follow it passionately. For it is reasonably foreseeable that a lot of people will be deterred from attending due to it being in Qatar.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 10:42am
            punter said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

            Yes Cameron, Qatar will be a problem. he was talking about the guys following it in Brazil, not Qatar.

            This is the subject I was talking about, it’s amazing.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJEt2KU33I

    • January 12th 2017 @ 6:25am
      Ryan said | January 12th 2017 @ 6:25am | ! Report

      Good article for sure
      I keep seeing comments about the competition being diluted and that status quo should remain with the best playing the best.

      Last time I checked if it were truly the best then it would be based solely on Rankings alone 1-32. If this were the case Australia (47) certainly would not be at the World Cup. As it stands they get in purely by playing in one of the weaker conferences. Let’s not mess around it is what it is.

      The last time NZ made a world Cup the were undefeated they outperformed oppossed to being humiliated.

      This has to be a good thing as it’s a global tournament and it’s about being one of the best teams in your region to qualify.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
        Perry Bridge said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        If it were a tennis tournament – or golf tournament – it might be based on rankings.

        The FIFC WC is based on qualifiers. The ‘pre tournament’ matches that are more part of the overall tournament structure than are domestic athletic meets that might allow an athlete to qualify for the Olympics.

        What I see about the 48 vs 32 vs 24 or 16 is simple how much of the ‘pre tournament’ component gets jammed into the tournament itself.

        The reality here is that it’s jamming a round of FIFA WC qualifiers into the actual tournament window – which I presume will lengthen the window.

        Now – in doing so – it’s not so much about diluting the competition – it might be about making it harder for people to plan travel, accommodation and the like.

        What if Germany qualified top for Europe – but bombed out in this ‘start of tournament re-qualification round’? Because – that’s what it looks like – yes you qualify for the FIFA WC, but, now instead of being a certain starter from 32 you are only certain into the ‘top’ 48 but not guaranteed into the 32. It’s actually under valuing the current top qualifiers.

        Perhaps there needs to be a top 24 slots that get filled by the stand out top qualifiers in each confed – and then the last 24 slots are fought over in effectively repechage heats.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 11:31am
          Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

          Gianni Infantino engaged in a lengthy Q&A with the global media after the Fifa decision. I watched it.

          Based on what Infantino said:
          * the format of the 2026 World Cup finals tournament has been decided & approved. It will not be changed
          * there will be 12 venues and the tournament will last 32 days
          * the format is 16 groups with 3 in each group and 2 group matches.
          * the top 2 in each group moves to the Knockout Phase
          * It takes 7 matches to win the World Cup – same as it is now.

          So, it’s pointless speculating on better formats. Fifa has made its decision after modelling the various options.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 1:07pm
        Free 2 Fly said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        This would be great if the ranking system is even. There was an article a while back on the roar which set out the inequalities of the current ranking system. These would need to be fixed in order for your proposal to work. I’m not saying that Australia isn’t in a weaker conference it definitely is, just that the way in which rankings are currently measured provides significantly more benefits to European and South American teams.

    • January 12th 2017 @ 6:41am
      Greg said | January 12th 2017 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      I totally agree. The world cup has not changed dramatically, except for the fact that the continental qualification structure now ceases earlier. This is a good thing!

      The continental qualification process is boring. It means every country faces the same countries over and over and over again (I swear we play qatar about twice a year). This is already covered in the continental championships (ie Asian Cup and Euro).

      I am all for removing the continental divisions and having a fully global process.

      Imagine, rather than playing Japan, UAE and Qatar everytime, the process allowed us the possibility to play Argentina, USA, Tahiti, Nigeria, Germany, England etc.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 8:55am
        mattq said | January 12th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        what are you on about Greg?

      • January 12th 2017 @ 9:03am
        Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:03am | ! Report

        “The continental qualification process is boring. It means every country faces the same countries over and over and over again (I swear we play qatar about twice a year). This is already covered in the continental championships (ie Asian Cup and Euro). ”

        This comment quite clearly shows that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          Greg said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

          Australia constantly plays Japan, Iraq, UAE, Qatar etc. Whether it be in the Asian Cup or either of the last two stages of WC qualification. It is getting tedious and repetitive.

          Remove the continental qualification process, have qualification randomly drawn groups across all participants (while still maintaining seedings) and the last 32/48 or whatever progress to the WC finals.

          The expansion of the WC finals to 48 teams is a step that allows more teams to progress through the garbage continental divides that is the current qualification structure.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 3:32pm
            Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

            It is only by chance that we have twice drawn Japan in our group. May be the same with Iraq and UAE (I think we drew them last time as well). I can’t remember the last time we played Qatar in a WCQ. I also can’t remember the last time we played South Korea in a WCQ. Iran we certainly haven’t played since 1997.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 7:42pm
            Pauly said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:42pm | ! Report

            I agree with Greg. With the jet age upon us, World Cup qualification need not be regional. Globetrotting is already a reality for many non European players anyway.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 9:23am
        Chris said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Is this a joke?

    • January 12th 2017 @ 7:10am
      lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:10am | ! Report

      Expansion itself is not what I have problem with, it’s the format that will be brought in to accommodate such expansion. Groups of 3 and Penalties in Group stage games are terrible no matter what way you look at it.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 7:32am
        Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

        I’m not sure how this will work out either, it is however only the same format as used in the knock-out stage

      • January 12th 2017 @ 7:42am
        Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        What are the negatives in having Groups of 3 and Penalties during the Group stage? The World Cup Finals tournament? The more I read about this the more I think it’s fantastic. The only concern now is the Qualification process.

      • Roar Guru

        January 12th 2017 @ 7:59am
        Mister Football said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        The groups of 3 is perhaps a greater change than the number of teams competing (although that would have to be a logistics nightmare for any future host).

        When you work through the three game scenarios for each individual group, you see that some teams will benefit from rests and other teams will have to play consecutive games with a shorter rest.

        It will also be interesting to see how the the national teams are spread across the 16 groups, for example, whether you plonk one European team in each group, etc, or do you focus more on a formula involving the rankings.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 10:16am
          Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          We had groups of three before (Spain 1982?) which I think followed groups of 4.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2017 @ 11:51am
            Magnus M. Østergaard said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            Correct, just looked it up. a WC of 12 teams with only the first place from each group going through.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2017 @ 12:21pm
            Mister Football said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

            Yes, Waz, I’ve already referred to it 3 or 4 times on other threads.

            That was for the 2nd round, basically in place of quarter finals, and was a way of getting from 12 teams to 4 teams.

            Here we are talking about a first round of 3 teams, where the top 2 of three go through to the knock-out stage.

            Three teams playing a total of three games in the first round is a major departure from the first round concept we’ve had now since the 1950s.

      • Roar Guru

        January 12th 2017 @ 9:48am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        Go on. Why is terrible no matter what way you look at it?

        • January 12th 2017 @ 10:39am
          Brian said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

          Match 1 – Team A beats Team B 3-0
          Match 2 – Team C park the bus against team B 0-0
          Match 3 – Team C park the bus against Team A (Team A’s reserve XI that is) lose 2-0

          So Team C who are terrible and have added nothing are now in the next round. We saw this exact problems at the last Euros with team defending their way out of the group.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 10:47am
            Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:47am | ! Report

            There can be no draws in the group stage. Only wins and losses.

            • January 12th 2017 @ 10:50am
              lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

              Only further encouraging terrible teams to park the bus and promote dour football.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 11:08am
                Perry Bridge said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

                Question – Is it fair to assume that with penalties that there will first be extra time?

                If so – then the bus parking time wasting loiterers will be out in full force. There have been games where over the 90 mins there’s less than 50 mins of actual play time due mainly to time wasting. Factor in another 30 mins of extra time before penalties – the best time wasters will come to the fore.

                Perhaps FIFA could get serious about their management of ‘injury/stoppage time’. Set the game as 2 30 min halves of ‘actual play’ – so, irrespective of the time wasting, everyone in the tournament will play a similar amount of actual game time. (doesn’t have to go to the American sports extreme of time management, but, I do feel the AFL has a reasonable grip on intra game time management which is a reasonable comparison as based on Germany 2006 – generally matches with extra time, thus 120 mins of ‘game time’ only had around 75-80 mins of ‘actual play’ time – which is ironically enough very similar to AFL with 4×20 min qtrs which usually takes 4×30 mins duration. 80 mins actual play in 120 mins duration.)

              • January 12th 2017 @ 11:19am
                Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

                “If so – then the bus parking time wasting loiterers will be out in full force. There have been games where over the 90 mins there’s less than 50 mins of actual play time due mainly to time wasting. Factor in another 30 mins of extra time before penalties – the best time wasters will come to the fore”

                Yup.

                Just focus on the negatives, Perry.

                Soccer is dead. Only a matter of time before the world starts to appreciate AFL like southern parts of Australia. All these wonderful rules in AFL, yet such little love for the sport after 150 years.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 12:55pm
                Chris said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Perry maybe shoot a letter off to FIFA and provide them with what the AFL are doing re time management. I’m pretty sure they’ll send down their technical team to see if it has merit.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm
                Perry Bridge said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

                #Chris

                Any body concerned with ‘best practice’ would – you’d think – have an eye on what other codes are doing. And more so those ‘innovative’ codes. The NFL in America, AFL in Australia – in particular – are 2 codes able to be more ‘innovative’. Then RL, via NRL and Superleague is able to pretty innovative should they want.

                And that’s just looking at football codes. The clear comparison to AFL is that the ball is ‘alive’ much more in a ‘real time’ format rather than a ‘turn based’ format (think computer gaming) so time management in AFL would lend itself more to soccer than the other codes.

                However – you can choose to be totally dismissive and not even consider it – rather like #Nemesis chooses to do.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 1:27pm
                Sydneysider said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                “Any body concerned with ‘best practice’ would – you’d think – have an eye on what other codes are doing. And more so those ‘innovative’ codes.”

                “And that’s just looking at football codes. The clear comparison to AFL is that the ball is ‘alive’ much more in a ‘real time’ format rather than a ‘turn based’ format (think computer gaming) so time management in AFL would lend itself more to soccer than the other codes.”

                I just have to sit and laugh at your comments sometimes Perry.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 1:44pm
                Punter said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

                I just hope he doesn’t take himself seriously.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 9:56pm
                c said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:56pm | ! Report

                ‘ innovative ‘- that is really funny

              • January 12th 2017 @ 2:30pm
                Chris said | January 12th 2017 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                #Perry
                I doubt FIFA have ever even heard of AFL let alone wanting to glean any best practices from it

              • January 12th 2017 @ 5:06pm
                Perry Bridge said | January 12th 2017 @ 5:06pm | ! Report

                #Chris

                At that might explain some things.

                Large slow moving organisations like FIFA can learn much from observing their more nimble competitors.

                I would suggest FIFA has heard of the NFL, and the other American top leagues such as NBA, NHL etc. Although – I do see US sports as one extreme end of the time management spectrum.

                It appears that you feel that the only time management spectrum worth considering is the one with soccer only featured upon it – – that isn’t really a diverse spectrum.

                —–

                So let me try a different perspective.

                Tell me why the time management of soccer – that can see between a 6:5 to 2:1 ratio of actual play time to dead time is working so well when at the end of 90 mins the ‘injury time’ of a seemingly arbitrary 2 or 3 minutes is added on. From my perspective – quite simply it is archaic and subject to abuse.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 6:31pm
                Sydneysider said | January 12th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

                “Large slow moving organisations like FIFA can learn much from observing their more nimble competitors.”

                Perry, you take yourself too seriously sometimes.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 5:23pm
                punter said | January 12th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                It’s why we love the game Perry!!!

              • January 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm
                Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 5:25pm | ! Report

                Referee is in charge of the match. He, and he alone, is responsible for all decisions.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
            Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            This is a good scenario.

            My questions

            Match 2: What’s wrong with Team C parking the bus? Why can’t Team B break them down? Team B has already lost, so it knows it has to win. It’s a knock-out match for Team B.

            Regardless, there will be no drawn matches. All matches will have a winner on penalties.

            Match 3: Team A playing a reserve XI means it is risking Top spot and will play the winner of another Group instead of a runner up. It could be the difference between playing Germany/Argentina/Brazil or avoiding those nations.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 10:51am
          lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          I don’t know why this has to be explained, anyone who’s actually watched their fair share of tournament football knows that the 3 game group stage was the perfect introduction and allowed for fair rest breaks across the group.

          Currently all 4 teams in the group would play their games on the same day, or if not possible, then as close as logistically possible. It allowed for fair fest days and no one could complain about bias scheduling. Now Team A plays Team B whilst Team C twiddles it’s thumbs. Team B then gets an extra rest between games whilst A & C have to play two games in quick succession.

          Some fool might respond to that by saying suck it up but every advantage counts in Tournament football where the stakes are the highest in world sport, turnarounds are tiny and team B has a blatant advantage.

          Then there’s the also benefits to a 4 team group stage like letting teams build a platform and settle on their final 11 before the knockouts as well as minnows getting enough games to both test themselves and build up their own share of interest.

          As for penalties, they are ridiculous as a tie decider in normal circumstances after 120 minutes in knockout scenarios, they are especially ridiculous in a group stage when the game only has 90 minutes to split the teams.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 11:19am
            Jacko said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

            Lesterlike, such is life. It is absolutely impossible to make things 100% equal and if your teams players cant handle 1 day off less than the team they are playing then their preperation is inefficient. Same with working out best combinations etc…this should be worked out long before the actual tournament. 3 team groups are what we are going to get so whether it is better or worse than other options like 4 team groups is no longer relevent. This expansion still only includes <22% of the teams able to qualify (48 from 220 )which is a lot less than most WC sports. There is now 16 more countries who will tune in to watch the tournament with meaningful interest and to me that is a massive benifit for the sport

            • January 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm
              lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

              I already said i’m fine with expansion, but this is forcing the issue and makes a bloody great mess out of the most important sports tournament on the planet.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
        Jim said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        I agree. In a perfect world I would of went to 12 groups of 4, with group winners + next 4 going through only to a round of 16. But Fifa is only about maximising their $$$$, so groups of 3, crazy penalty shootouts in the group stage and a round of 32 instead.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 11:26am
          Jacko said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          Jim that makes the tournament all about the winner. Some countries will never win but love the tournament journey rather than the final result. Yes its about money from an FIFA perspective but from a fans perspective, this decision includes an extra 7-8% of fans worldwide and countries which did not previously qualify will surely increase their fan base during the WC and hopefully grow the game in these extra countries

          • January 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm
            Brian said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

            Yes but what about fans in Germany or Brazil. The qualifiers will now be meaningless as they will surely qualify. The 1st round will also be a walk in the park. We’ve reduced their experience to a 5 match knockout tournament.

            Part of the WC idea is to have the best team win. This notion has been dealt a blow and that’s why people are upset

            • January 12th 2017 @ 2:35pm
              Chris said | January 12th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              Do you think Usain Bolt enjoys the prelims before the actual final?
              He just goes at half speed and susses out the opponents and gets his game plan sorted for the big one.
              Bit like what the Brazils, Germany’s, Italys and Spains can do.

    • January 12th 2017 @ 7:40am
      Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      I’m all for the expansion plan and am amazed at the hostility and sometimes irrational objections being thrown up. It is FIFA though and they’ve worked hard to get a knee-jerk reaction to anything they do.

      The comment “it’s only about the money” is the worst one, even if it is when did football stop needing money? The EPL and European Champions League are all about the money, why is it okay for them to maximise revenue but not FIFA?

      The World Cup just got bigger with 1 in 5 member nations represented at the finals, and there won’t be a dead-rubber game anywhere to be seen

      • January 12th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        “there won’t be a dead-rubber game anywhere to be seen”

        Not only is that not true, unless there is penalties to decide group stage matches, the format exposes the possibility of having the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ all over again.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 9:09am
          Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          lol. You really haven’t read any detail on this have you!

          All group games will be decided by penalties if the game is drawn, that means every group game is win/lose just like the knock out stage. That will result in no dead rubbers.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 12:10pm
            Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            “All group games will be decided by penalties if the game is drawn”

            Has this been decided definitively? My understanding is that it hasn’t and is only being considered.

            • January 12th 2017 @ 3:04pm
              Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 3:04pm | ! Report

              Nope. It’s been decided. It’s the only way you can avoid a problem in the third game where both sides know what they need

        • January 12th 2017 @ 9:56am
          Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          “the format exposes the possibility of having the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ all over again.”

          Can you provide an example for how this would occur? You may be correct but, so far, I can’t see how it would occur. Two Group matches is as close as we can get to a full Knock Out tournament without it being a Knock Out tournament.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 12:27pm
            Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            Note, I did say “unless there is penalties…”. Assuming that is not the case:

            Match 1: A vs B – 0-0 draw.
            Match 2: A vs C – 0-1 (C win)

            In the final match, C could go for it, but they would risk losing, and in doing so lose first place in the Group. B could go for it, but risk losing, and a 1-0 loss would see their qualification go down to drawing lots, and any heavier loss would see them eliminated. The most likely result: both teams would cruise to a comfortable 0-0 draw that sees both of them progress.

            • January 12th 2017 @ 12:39pm
              Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

              Fair enough. That’s probably why FIFA has reportedly decided to have penalties.

              It could be possible, just like we are discussing various scenarios & the pros & cons, FIFA also reviewed various scenarios & pros & cons? I mean we’re talking about the biggest sporting event on the planet. You’d assume they did some scenario planning?

              • January 12th 2017 @ 1:50pm
                Brian said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                They ran 1000 scenarios and this one produced the most revenue.

                Introducing penalties in group games is a major change. Penalties were supposed to be a tiebreaker for 2 teams who can’t be separated after 120 minutes. Not the sport itself.

                Maybe we need another tournament where France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina & Brazil play each other once (5 games) and the top 2 play a Final. Less revenue but we would actually have a World Champion.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 3:07pm
                Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

                lol Brian – all those teams can qualify for the 48 team WC and win it from there. If they’re the best they will do it (why you have France in your list I don’t know, they’re sh*t?)

              • January 12th 2017 @ 2:38pm
                Chris said | January 12th 2017 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

                #Brian
                Sort of like 1930?

              • January 12th 2017 @ 6:39pm
                Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                @Brian

                Why don’t you pitch your ideas for an alternative format to IMG, or maybe one of the FTA networks in Australia? You might be onto something and become the Bernie Ecclestone of a new football movement.

      • Roar Guru

        January 12th 2017 @ 9:49am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 12th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Waz, people are just afraid of change.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 10:03am
          AGO74 said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Being against it is not being afraid of change. I supported the move from 24 to 32 back when that was made.

          My preference was to retain at 32, but I would have been ok if it had been expanded to 40 teams. 48 teams for me though rewards too much mediocrity.

          • Roar Guru

            January 12th 2017 @ 10:13am
            Cameron Kellett said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            What mediocrity is being rewarded? You still have to qualify. Given the amount of nations that attempt to qualify just in Asia, doesn’t mean Qatar and China are assured automatic qualification. Other federations had their numbers increased and depending on who qualifies and how the draw pans out, we could end up with a wonderful round of 32.

            • January 12th 2017 @ 10:26am
              AGO74 said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

              You saw that this year with expansion of euro to 24 nations. Sure there were a couple of surprise packages – Wales, Iceland. But honestly, a good half off the new countries that had opportunity to qualify were dross – Albania, Austria, Turkey for example – did not add any real quality to the tournament.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 10:37am
                Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report

                “Albania, Austria, Turkey for example – did not add any real quality to the tournament”

                Yet, can we blame the expanded Euro for this?

                To qualify for the Euro2016 finals tournament:
                Austria finished top of their Group ahead of Russia & Sweden.
                Albania finished 2nd in their Group ahead of Denmark & SErbia
                Ok Turkey finished 3rd in their Group, but they were no bunnies. They finished above Netherlands who didn’t qualify.

                Other than Croatia and Spain I don’t recall any of the Euro elite providing any great entertainment or quality at Euro2016.

                The nations I remember for giving me great joy were: Iceland, Rep Ireland, Nth Ireland, Hungary, Wales.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 11:15am
                Jim said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

                Iceland were hardly a surprise – they got within a whisker of qualifying for WC 2014, and I believe would have qualified under the old 16 team approach to the UEFA championship.

                But I agree that some of the other extra teams were awful.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 12:29pm
                Mark said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                A point that the Euro expansionists always fail to note – the smaller teams who provided the greatest entertainment at Euro 2016 and were put up as examples of the success of the expansion would have qualified under the old format.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 10:11am
          Freddie said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:11am | ! Report

          If the reason for change was to genuinely improve the level of developing nations, most people would be in favour. But it’s not. It’s about money and votes for the President, which means nothing has changed since the days of Blatter.

          They’e also just made it impossible for any nation bar the super rich to host the damn thing. That is, if we’re not going to have a World Cup Finals that tours the globe, which is probably their next idea to make money.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 10:19am
            Waz said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            If it is about money, good. People in this country love the EPL and that’s all about money so most people wont have a problem.

            But I don’t think it’s all about money, go and see what this means to nations who found the door to WC qualification closed, if FIFA have listened to them good on em and if more money comes in good on em

            • January 12th 2017 @ 11:34am
              Freddie said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

              Exactly. Qualifying for the World Cup should “mean” something. It shouldn’t be handed out like free sweets.

              If you don’t think this is all about money, and votes for Infantino come the next election, you’re deluded.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 12:44pm
                Nemesis said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

                What’s the problem if it’s all about money. Why should FIFA be bashful about maximising revenue from football?

                Do you condemn other sports for maximising revenue, or just big bad Fifa?
                If Fifa ever change the format of the underlying sport to chase revenue it won’t be football & I won’t watch.

              • January 12th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                Sydneysider said | January 12th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                “What’s the problem if it’s all about money. Why should FIFA be bashful about maximising revenue from football?”

                Yep, agree with that comment Nemesis.

                Take a look at the big 3 in cricket (Australia, England, India) who now take 80% of the revenue generated by cricket through the ICC, thus the other cricket nations get the scraps.

                The IRB (Rugby) are spreading their revenue around to developing nations just like FIFA are trying to do.

              • January 13th 2017 @ 8:29am
                BrainsTrust said | January 13th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

                iRB give majority of their money to the top 10 not developing nations, Great Britain gets 3 shares sort of.
                The Pacific islands would be top 10 easily but can;t even pay for airfares.
                The voting system favours the top nations, who control it.
                ICC you have exagerrated the distributions India , England and Australia get about 45% of the money, with India getiing about 20%.
                The the rest of the top 10 get 45% and the rest get 10%.
                The ICC is a hidden dictatorship with the president elected similiar to rugby having no real powers.
                IF the IRB and ICC had any nations that would add greatly to the revenue pool they would get direct entry to the world cup regardless of ability.
                Pacific islands are excluded from southern hemisphere rugby competitions because they are poor, and instead they go as far including Japan who are richer.
                FIFA is too democratic, its one member one vote, they give all 200+ an equal share of some funding.
                This encourages a whole lot of minor nations with no economic benefit to FIFA to participate.
                North Korea going to the world cup , giving the African nations so many spots , does not make any economic sense.

      • January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am
        lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        How is what UEFA’s done seen to be ok? The changes to the Champions League have been terrible for everyone outside of the big 4, the latest of which were universally condemned across Europe and since 1995 a lot of what made people fall in love with European Football in the first place has been eroded.

        • January 12th 2017 @ 11:24am
          Jim said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          UEFA will eventually kill the golden goose with the Champions league in my opinion. While my team (Manchester City) are still relatively ‘new comers’ to it, there really isn’t much gloss to the tournament, until the knockout stages, and even then its the same old match ups, year after year.

          As a first step, UEFA should abolish the Europa League in its current format and replace it with a home/away knockout competition, like the old Cup Winner’s Cup. But as always, $$$$ drive the lot.

          • January 12th 2017 @ 11:34am
            Jacko said | January 12th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            Even the premier leagues in our city’s ( Sydney, Brisbane , Melbourne etc) have paid players so Im not sure where it stops being about money. Why is that bad?

          • January 12th 2017 @ 12:20pm
            lesterlike said | January 12th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

            My team is Celtic. We’re in the same group as Ajax, Red Star and Steaua Bucherest that were formidable challengers in the old forma but will never win the tournament again, solely because we didn’t have the fortune to be founded in a nation with a large population and economy.

            UEFA don’t care though because think all everyone want to see is Big English Club vs Big Spanish Club twenty times a year.

    • January 12th 2017 @ 8:23am
      Midfielder said | January 12th 2017 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Brillant and my throughts

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