Thursday, November 19, 2009

World Cup 2010 Field of 32 has been set, but not without controversy

Concacaf (35 teams - 3 or 4 berths - playoff with Conmebol)

USA - finished top of the group again.
Mexico - after several coaches and a lot of angst, they qualified as they should.
Honduras - they should name a city after Bornstein, whose stoppage time goal vs Costa Rica essentially clinched it for Honduras and eliminated CR.

Conmebol (10 teams - 4 or 5 berths - playoff with Concacaf)

Brazil - playing more like Italy these days, but winning like Brazil.
Paraguay - beat both Brazil and Argentina in qualifying.
Chile - first booked ticket since WC 98.
Argentina - why is Maradona still their manager?
Uruguay - after missing in 06, back where they belong.

UEFA (53 teams - 13 berths)

Spain - The best team in Europe.
England - Capello has them playing with a new confidence.
Germany - I read somewhere that they've never lost a road qualifier?
Netherlands - the first group in Europe to qualify.
Italy - not convincing, but won their group.
Portugal - lost their group but won their playoff, even without CRonaldo.
France - why is that idiot Domenech still their manager?  Henry's handball.
Denmark - Surprisingly beat out Portugal and Sweden to win their group
Serbia - Shockingly beat out France to win group.
Slovakia - Only had to contend with a down Czech Rep.
Switzerland - Easiest group in UEFA.
Slovenia - sent Hiddink's Russians home in shame in playoff.
Greece - conquered Sheva and the Ukrainians in playoff.

CAF (53 teams - 5 berths, 1 host nation)

South Africa - host nation
Ghana - Essien will be there.
Ivory Coast - So will Drogba and Kalou.
Nigeria - and Jon Obi Mikel.  wow, Chelsea has a lot of CAF players.
Cameroon - And of course Eto'o.
Algeria - beat out Egypt in extra game playoff.

AFC (43 teams - 4 or 5 berths - playoff with OFC)

Japan - naturally
South Korea - who else.
North Korea - Okay, I understand Japan and So Korea qualifying, but how does China not qualify above North Korea?  The Chinese are communist too, except they have a few billion more people to choose from.
Australia - Not sure why Australia gets to compete in the Asian conference.


New Zealand - Oceania isn't even guaranteed a WC berth.  The winner from OFC has a playoff vs 5th place AFC team.  NZ beat Bahrain to qualify.

Hand of Henry

Okay, so the controversy continues to grow over France's qualification vs Ireland in that playoff.  I definitely believe that had Ireland committed the handballs which led to a goal which eliminated a football country as big as France, Fifa might actually do something about it.  But as it stands now, there's no way anything will change.  If it were up to me, I would make France and Ireland replay a 45 minute period.  If there is still no score, then play another 45 minute period.

Henry did commit handball but it is entirely up to the ref to make that call.  Even if Henry admitted to the handball on the spot, the ref still has to make the call based on what he saw.  Therefore, as I've always said, instant replays for goals should always be used.  Always.  The game is interrupted anyway, so why can't they review goals, especially when there's controversies involved?  Everything should be up for scrutiny, including offsides, goal-line calls, handballs. The only thing that shouldn't be reviewed are fouls.  Fouls not called during the course of play on the field cannot be called as a result of the replay.  Also, the running clock should be stopped on replays (as well as other stoppages in play such as injuries, cards, substitutions, goals but I digress).

To improve refereeing during the game, there should always be a permanent goal-line referee stationed at each end as well as an additional ref on the field of play.  As it stands now, there are 2 sideline refs and only 1 ref for the rest of the field of play.  That's ridiculous in itself.  While it is the nature of this game to have major controversies, Fifa should be held responsible to fix the issues within their control.  These are easy solutions.

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