Frank’s Sport Court: World Cup Playoff Style

Frank Passalacqua, Sports Co-Editor

The majority of the United States isn’t a soccer fan until the four-year cycle rolls around. Summer 2014 is the next scheduled world cup, and USA will be looking to make it to one of the greatest sporting events.

However, I’m not a fan of the qualifying process that it takes to make it to the World Cup. I feel other playoff processes are much more efficient and would make more sense.

Here is how it works. The 198 teams that started the qualification process are divided into six “confederations” by FIFA. The teams in their division play each other over a three-year span and only a certain amount of teams make it, depending on how many points they have. The entire process is way too confusing to describe in this short column, so I’ll describe why I don’t like it.

First off, a lot can change in three years.

The same team that won a few matches in the first year can be completely different come that fourth year. Even though they qualified, the team can consist of new players that are clearly not as good due to players getting traded or retired.

Also, the whole points thing is just too complicated. Why not use the traditional playoff-style like football, basketball, baseball, etc. does?

Here is my “plan.”

Once the World Cup ends, the top 16 teams get an automatic bid for the next event in four years. The remaining 16 teams play a simple knock-out tournament the summer before, and depending on the result, they too get ranked then from 17-32.

Bam, there’s a little mixture of the current and traditional playoff process.

Knockout-style games are always more interesting anyways. That way, teams put it all on the line, knowing what is at stake.

In a tournament swayed by point totals, you can still lose a few games, depending on the other opponents’ records. Granted it makes it easier to advance, teams should always aim for the victory and not settle for a tie or a loss.

Most professional sports, actually just excluding football, have playoff series. Even here, I don’t think it would be effective. Playing the same team in a series out of three really wouldn’t prove much and result in an ranking system accurate enough to rank these 32 teams.

Yes, I may be the only person who doesn’t agree with the FIFA qualifiers and yes, my “fix” may seem completely useless to most.

Personally, I just think dragging out qualifications over three years isn’t the best thing. A knockout tournament the year before will put all teams at their best level, making the World Cup even more exciting.