Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughIs it time for World Cup pre-qualification? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Is it time for World Cup pre-qualification? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Is it time for World Cup pre-qualification?

England’s 8-0 destruction of San Marino last weekend has once again raised the question of whether certain countries within the current World Cup Qualification setup in Europe should be allowed to compete at the highest level of international football.

San Marino lie bottom of England’s qualification group having lost 6 games from 6, scoring zero goals and conceding 29 in the process. The team who are generally made up of part-time players from a small microstate of approximately 30,000 people in Italy have only won 1 of 118 games in their history. Currently, they lie in joint last place in the Fifa World Rankings tied with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Many people have considered San Marino’s results and performances as embarrassing within the European World Cup Qualifiers and a waste of time for the continent’s more senior teams. San Marino are not alone in their exploits however as Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Andorra, the Faroe Islands and Malta have all suffered similar fates in recent years and like San Marino currently sit bottom of their current qualification groups having failed to record a victory so far.

It has been proposed therefore that as is the case in other continents such as Africa, Asia and North America, these 6 countries begin in a pre-qualification round with the victors rewarded with the chance to compete with the big boys of European football for the right to play in the World Cup finals.

It has been argued that these so called ‘minnows’ would therefore get to play in more competitive matches with the realistic prospect of achieving victories, therefore inspiring confidence to become stiffer opposition for their more illustrious European counterparts.

However, countering this some believe that matches against similarly inferior opposition will only stifle their growth further and that they may learn more against senior professionals in tactically educated teams even if in the process they suffer embarrassing defeat.

The issue has been an ongoing debate for many years and often rears it’s contentious head when a team such as San Marino suffer a heavy defeat during a high profile qualifying match. There are arguments for an against the inclusion of the afore-mentioned lesser teams within the qualification setup, but ultimately the decision on whether change should be made lies in the hands of FIFA.