Norway's controversial victory over a
lackluster Brazil caused Morocco to get eliminated.
Spain is another team whose elimination
was pending on the result of a team that had already clinched first place- Nigeria.
The Need For Change:
FIFA rumored to change format for draw
of WC second round
The 1998 world cup is beyond us now, but it will never leave the memory
of any soccer fan. It will always remain the first world cup won by France,
the first with 5 African teams and most importantly, it was the first ever
world cup where 32 teams were given the chance to play in the finals. So
the old and tested method of 6 groups, with the winners, runners-up and the 4 best third
place finishers make the round of 16, was replaced by 8
groups, where winners and runners-up qualify and the rest go home.
But a lot of football freaks noticed some flaws with this method. The last
round of matches in the first round could become useless for some teams
(Example: Brazil and Nigeria), which effected the outcome of qualification
for other teams (Morocco and Spain). Fact is, no matter how much FIFA warns teams which
like Nigeria or Brazil, have guaranteed the top spot, there is no reason in the world for
these teams to risk injuring key players for a meaningless game. Also, many football fans
complained about the
pre-determined draw for the later rounds, starting with the round of 16. As
it stood, one could claim that the eventual champs,France, had a much
easier route to the finals. Not to take anything away from there great
championship victory, France's biggest threat in their side of the draw
were an over-aged Germany and an Italian team that made it to the finals
via the playoffs. on the other hand, Brazil,Argentina,Holland,Spain and
England were all drawn in the other side (this of course assuming all
results go as expected, something that rarely happens).
Never the less, no one wants the greatest sporting tournament on earth to be
decided by "Luck", and hence the never ending complains about
Penalty-kicks. And now the "Draw" is grabbing a lot of attention. Now some
people suggested (including me) a simple NEW draw in the advanced rounds, similar to what
is done in the local cup competitions in England and most parts of the world. But here
again "Luck" plays a huge factor. A few days ago I read a rumor of a new format
that FIFA are thinking of implementing in the 2002 world cup. I personally love this new
idea and think many football fans will agree it will solve a lot of problems, despite the
fact its not flawless it self. (then again nothing is).
The new method is somewhat similar to those used in the NFL and NBA in the United
States. Its a "Seed" based system, based on the results in the first round of
the world cup (results or seeding prior to the first round
is invalid). The team with the best performance in the first round is
giving the top seed, and it goes on to play the worst team from the
qualifiers, the 16th seed. of course, the teams performance will be based
on (in order) total points,higher goal difference...etc. What this insures
is top quality football even for teams who have guaranteed there top spot
and no "gift" matches, so everyone decides his own fate (to some extent).
The confusion could come in the following rounds. in the NFL, the top
seed ALWAYS gets to play the weakest seed of the remaining teams. to
clarify this, lets say Brazil were the top seed, and the weakest of the
Quarter Final teams was Denmark, the 12th seed. then simply Brazil play
against Denmark. However, in the NBA, the schedule becomes pre-determined after the
seeding method is used. so if Brazil are top seed, they are automatically scheduled to
play the winner of the 8th and 9th seeds, because if things go as planned, the 8th seed
would be the weakest of the teams that reached the Quarter Finals. This is a slight
difference, and while the NFL method seems to be more logical, its a secondary matter to
whether this format, the seeding format, will be applied or not.
In all aspects, this is one of the best solutions I've heard, and if there
is a flaw here its not really a major flaw. Please remember, this remains
for the time being a rumor, but I for one would be glad to see this
implemented in the next World Cup. And I think many football fans will come to agree with
"The Vampire Lestat"
Any comments or suggestions are most welcome...
Read our World Cup 98