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World Cup finals format, Football

The current format of the Football World Cup means that group matches are first played in a four-team league. The first two teams in the group go forward, the last two go home. The group matches are followed by matches between the last 16, then the quarter finals, semi-finals and final.

This format has many disadvantages:

  • A team can be lucky or unlucky and be selected by the draw to compete in a group of stronger or weaker opponents.
  • In certain groups, the suspense is over after just two days. Successful winning teams have already qualified for the quarter finals, while others have already lost twice and can no longer qualify. The third games in the group phase are often boring and inconsequential, compulsory meaningless exercises.
  • Teams are eliminated solely because of poor goal differences.
  • It is a strange form of hospitality to send a team home after only three days play.
  • With the present format, teams, TV stations and hoteliers can only plan for the group phase.
  • For millions of fans the World Cup is already over in an emotional sense if their home team is eliminated in the early stages.
  • The present format means that the championship table is continuously halved. After the group phase, 50% of the teams leave for home. After the last 16, another 50% of the teams left are also sent home, until only 4 of the 32 teams remain.

In the 2010 football world championships in South Africa, I would have liked to have watched the following games: Brazil vs Germany, Argentina vs France, Spain vs Italy, England vs. Holland. This is not possible with the present format as teams constantly have to leave the competition. I therefore propose a different World Cup Finals format.

Sugested new rule: the World Cup Finals will be held using the “Swiss System”.

This championship format has no group matches and no final. Each team plays seven games and none go home early. Each team is always allocated another opponent. In the first round, strong teams play against weaker teams. A table is compiled after the first round has been played.

The procedure for the second and all further rounds is as follows: The team at the top of the table plays against the next best opponent, which it has not yet competed against. The second placed team will play against the next best opponent, which it has not yet competed against. In this way strong teams play against each other and weaker teams against each other. The team with the highest number of points wins the championship.

Here’s an example with just a few teams:

1st round: Strong teams are seeded, weaker opponents are allocated by drawing lots.
Say the matches gave the following results:

Brazil - Slovenia 5 : 0
Germany - Japan 4 : 0
Argentina - USA 3 : 0
Spain - Ghana 2 : 0
France - Honduras 1 : 1

The table after the first round

1. Brazil
2. Germany
3. Argentina
4. Spain
5. France
6. Honduras
7. Ghana
8. USA
9. Japan
10. Slovenia

This table serves as the basis for deciding the opponents for the second round. It begins with the first-placed team, i.e. Brazil. The next placed team, which has yet not played against Brazil, would be Germany. The team pairs for the second round are decided in this way, to the elation of millions of spectators. Argentina plays against Spain. France has already played against Honduras, so the next opponent is Ghana. Honduras plays against the USA and Japan against Slovenia.

After the second round, a new table is compiled and used in the same way as the basis for deciding on the opponents in the third round.

Every round covers three match days. From the second round on, the weaker teams play on the first day, the teams in the middle of the table on the second day and the strongest teams on the last day. The last match on the last day of play is between the team at the top of the table and the team allocated as the opponent. The atmosphere of a final is thus created.

Advantages of the Swiss System:

  • None of the teams leaves early. All 32 teams stay in the country where the World Cup Finals are being held until the last round.
  • As all teams play seven matches, and fans at home are engrossed right up to the very last round.
  • TV stations and sponsors are better able to plan, as the home team does not leave early.
  • As more matches are played, more admission tickets can be sold, an advantage to the country holding the World Cup. The same applies to TV advertising: more matches mean more viewers and so more revenue.
  • Hotels in the country hosting the World Cuo are more fully occupied as all teams stay in the country to the end of the event.
  • Fans of the respective national teams stay longer in the country and thus spend more money there.
  • All teams can take part in the closing ceremony on the day after the last match.

 

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