This week sees domestic leagues take a break to make way for international football. I’m not a huge fan of international football. At least not in it’s current format. I love watching the World Cup, the European Championships, the Copa America and the African Cup of Nations but I can’t stand the breaks in the domestic season to make way for the qualifiers.
The way I see it, the overall standard of domestic and international football are hurt by the current format. I’m not sure how meeting up for a week, eight or nine times a season to play international games helps anyone. The international sides can’t cover a lot in one week and they have no continuity. After a week or so, the players will be starting to develop partnerships and understandings. Just as things are coming together, they go back to their club sides and a month or so later, they come back to start off from square one again. Meanwhile, domestic teams, lose half their team for a week, right in the middle of the season. They get their players back on Wednesday or Thursdays and then only have a day or two to prepare them for a game. It’s not fair, especially on the clubs who are paying these footballers hundreds of thousands of pounds a week in wages.
My proposal would be to synchronise the international calendar in such a way that the domestic seasons were shortened by about six to eight weeks and the qualifying campaigns took place at the end of the season. I think it would generate a lot more interest. In international football, when teams are playing the final few group games, you can barely remember what happened in the early qualification games as they were played over a year ago. With my idea there would be the equivalent of a major championship every summer. It just comes down to managing the length of time you have at your disposal in a better way. If the international season was completed in one window over a six week period, teams could be playing a game every five days or so. You could also set up the fixtures in such a way that there is games every day. I’ve no idea who would be losing if this happened. It really does work out better for everyone. The clubs don’t lose their players at key points in the season, international teams get a six to eight week period to prepare and play the biggest games of their season, fans get to watch an exciting tournament and television companies would absolutely love the idea. Wives and girlfriends couldn’t even complain as there’s not actually more football, it’s just organised differently.
2013’s summer would be World Cup Qualifying, 2014 would be the World Cup, 2015 European Championship Qualifying, 2016 European Championships and so on. Continents like Africa and South America who hold their Continental tournaments every two years could fit it around the World Cup year or combine qualifying with their continental tournaments.
One thing I am sick of hearing about is footballers complaining about tiredness. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that these players, who are paid obscene amounts of money, complain they are tired after playing football a few times a week. I know guys who work in factories or on building sites and then go and play football. I’ve never once heard them complain of tiredness. Too many footballers are overpaid prima donnas but just for arguments sake, let’s say that tiredness really is an issue. I’m fairly sure, jetting off on international duty every month doesn’t help. If continental travel could be restricted to the Champions League and Europa League during the season, then surely players would be coming into these tournaments in better condition. It could even be arranged, were possible, to arrange double headers. Two home games in a row, followed by two away games. I know these wee players are tired so you could even go as far as to arrange the fixtures to minimise the travelling. If there are two trips to Eastern Europe in the group, then try to arrange them for back to back games etc.
Traditionalists won’t like it. They won’t know why they won’t like it, but they just won’t. There are a lot of positives in it and as far as I can see, very few negatives. I don’t think it’s something that will happen any time soon, but it is definitely something that could happen in the future. Football is dictated by money and television. There’s a hell of a lot of money in football as it is and if the television companies could guarantee a tournament every summer then you can be sure it wouldn’t be long before it happened.