For the Good of The Game

May 2, 2004

FIFA – For the good of the game

 

The GOOD OF THE GAME

 

That’s what the FIFA logo is.

 

Could someone please explain to me exactly how FIFA are acting for the good of the game in Oceania?

 

The fact that Oceania does not have a direct qualifying spot – yet again – for the world cup in 2006 is a disgrace in itself. But this week FIFA went one step further in destroying football “down under” by denying Oceania so much as a fair chance of qualifying. OFC did of course have a direct spot for a short while – about 6 months – but that was withdrawn at another of FIFAs whims. Once again FIFA appeased the strong South American bloc at the expense of justice & fairness.

 

Having lost that direct spot, the least OFC could have expected was an open draw for the “half spot” playoffs. Why was it determined that OFC should have to play off against South America again? To say “that was how it was done at the last world cup” ignores the fact that it was equally unjust then!!!! Had Brazil – the eventual winners – lost their last qualifying match, it would have been they that played off against Australia for a berth in Korea/Japan. What possible logical reason could there be to pit Oceania against South America? Surely it would have been logical and fair to follow one of three options:-

 

1) a four way group play off over one week at a neutral venue (Europe?) with the top two sides qualifying

2) a geographically based play off ie Asia v Oceania & Concacaf v Conmebol

3) an open and fair draw with 4 balls in a pot like EVERY OTHER ASPECT OF THE WORLD CUP QUALIFYING DRAW

 

It could be argued that the first two of these options are unsatisfactory but at least they are fair. As is the third option. What is not fair is FIFA dictating whom Oceanias representatives should play.

 

Why are OFC continually treated so badly? Its not a new thing. We in OFC have battled it for years. Whenever a country becomes a political “hot potato” they get dumped in with Oceania. At various stages Rhodesia Israel & & Taiwan have all been thrown into OFC to keep the peace. One wonders how Iraq & Palestine avoided similar fates this time.

 

The world cup is a global event which – amongst other aims – celebrates the abilities of the best teams from all around the globe. On that basis alone OFC should have one direct spot at least. FIFA determines that the number spots are allocated according to population size, confederation size or playing ability. Yet even on those criteria OFC could still have a case for direct qualification.

Population size? Is the world cup just for populous countries? And why does Asia only get 4.5 spots since it is the most populous confederation?

Confederation size? OFC is bigger than Conmebol yet they have 4.5 spots to our half.

Playing ability? Well if we are continually denied a qualifying place how can we prove we are good enough? Friendlies? Australia – currently ranked just second in Oceania – hammered England in England this year. The very same England that are one of Europes top 4 seeds.

 

Whether your argument is based on population size, confederation size or playing ability there seems no basis for denying that OFC should have a direct spot.

 

It is so easy to say “prove you are good enough by qualifying and then we will work out a fairer route” but that holds no water. Why are the THIRD best CONCACAF team treated better than the best team in Oceania? Why are Asias FOURTH best team treated better than the OFC Champions? Could either of these teams be sure of a qualifying win against Conmebols fifth team? In fact could ANY of the European runners up be sure either?

NO.

 

So if they can’t be sure of qualifying why then is it held against Oceania that they cant qualify using that route?

In fact why bother giving OFC half a spot at all?

 

There’s no argument that Oceania is dominated by one country – though that country isn’t currently the confederation champion. But for years there was only one team in Central America – Mexico – and since the increase in qualifying places in that region we have seen the emergence of countries such as Trinidad, Jamaica & United States. Africa can point to a similar tale. If FIFA really are acting For the good of the game in Oceania, they need to provide realistic incentives to the smaller countries in the region.

 

From an Oceania point of view it is hard not to view FIFA as one of the more corrupt organisations in control of a sport on this planet. An organisation who looks after its close knit circle of friends at the expense of all others.

 

Shame FIFA.

Shame.

 

Shame.

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