Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, Ireland Asked to Be No. 33

In this story, we have Ireland confirming it asked to be added to the World Cup finals as the 33rd team.

And then we have Sepp Blatter seeming to say 1) it won't happen but 2) it will be discussed with the executive committee.

Guess there won't be much to discuss.

Blatter didn't exactly improve the situation by suggesting that if Ireland came in ... Costa Rica would have to, as well, since the decisive goal in Uruguay's playoff victory over the Ticos should have been negated by an offsides call.

So, yes, that's one of our reasons for not letting in Ireland: We screwed the pooch so enormously in two matches ... we can't let you both in!

Some questions raised by this story.

I would love to know if Ireland had any sort of plan for a 33-team World Cup. Must have, right? But haven't heard of any, yet.

Maybe a "play in" match against New Zealand? The Kiwis are the weakest side among the 32 that will be in South Africa, by global acclamation. But that wouldn't be quite fair to the Kiwis, who did what they were asked to do ...

How else?

Some variation of the European group qualifying scheme? Maybe three groups of five, three groups of six, the top two from each group go into the knockout phase ... and the final four come from the best of the third-place sides? (With results against bottom teams in the six-team groups thrown out?)

Of course, it would mean for a weird schedule. An extra match for 15 teams, two extra matches for 18 teams ... 75 group-phase matches, instead of 48. So, given the number of matches, perhaps the knockout phase begins with the quarterfinals? Six group winners and the top two runners-up?

Or, seven groups of four, one of five (including Ireland), and only four extra group-stage matches, and ...

That would be the smallest mess, but still.

The only way this could have been fixed was immediately after it happaned. With a replay between Ireland and France within days of the original. When that didn't happen, this all became academic.

And now ... one day from Fifa announcing (in theory) how it will arrange the pots for the Finals Draw, which is coming on Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment