While the World Cup is always an exciting event, there is a repetitive pattern to the contenders that dramatically decreases the tension and excitement. For example, at the time of this writing, we were down to four remaining teams — Germany, Holland, Spain and Uruguay. While this configuration is obviously fine for the fans of these four nations, for the rest of us, it's more of a shrug of the shoulders and a "we've seen this all before" attitude. Granted, Spain is a minor surprise, but throw in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, France and England and you have the total list of the only nations that have won the World Cup in the past and are likely to win it in the future.
For the other 253 nations occupying this planet, it's a bitter pill to swallow when you realize your nation's team will likely never qualify for the Cup, or if they do somehow manage to stumble into the tournament, they will be bounced out in the blink of an eye. Don't believe me? Ask the citizens of North Korea, Honduras, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Greece, Switzerland or any of the other first round casualties.
I have written to FIFA officials, and generously provided the following solutions to this dilemma:
Solution number one:
Let's match up teams in contests we really want to see. Forget about Paraguay versus Spain, or Germany against Argentina — these nations are not historical enemies. Instead, consider the fun we would all have [and the riots that would ensue] when these teams are pitted against each other:
• Israel vs. Palestine.
• India vs. Pakistan.
• North Korea against — you guessed it — South Korea!
• Iran vs. Iraq.
• The United States against Afghanistan or Iran or Cuba or Libya or Russia or just about anyone else for that matter!
Solution number two:
The next time two vastly different teams meet, let's even up the odds so the weaker team at least has a glimmer of a chance. Suggestions include:
• Brazil vs. Haiti — there may be nothing we can do to help the Haiti team to conquer Brazil, but I think blindfolding all Brazilian players should make things interesting.
• Germany vs. Ethiopia — again a terrible mismatch, but forcing all German players to play on one leg only might turn this into a real contest.
• Italy vs. Guam — everyone in Guam will have their TVs on when Guam's team — all 56 of them — takes the field to oppose the two Italians allowed to represent Italy.
• Argentina vs. the Vatican — while the Vatican has some big supporters "upstairs," I still don't like their chances against Argentina's always-impressive entry. Still, if the Argentine players are forced to carry a 100-pound cross on their backs, the Vatican team may yet prevail.
For those football purists who feel that blindfolding players, one legged players, or players weighed down with crosses violates the tradition and the history of the sport, then there is a third solution. Instead of hobbling the superior players, let's just give the weaker teams a head start:
• England vs. the French Frigate Shoals — it's likely that England could score roughly three goals a minute, so giving the French Frigate Shoals approximately 270 goals in advance could make this an exciting contest.
• The Netherlands vs. San Marino — as you may know, the Dutch are prolific scorers, so this game likely needs to start out with Holland 0, San Marino 566.
Now, FIFA, it's up to you. The ideas are great, now you need to show some greatness as well.
Brian McLeod's favourite team, Scotland, will be allowed to have players use their feet, hands, heads, field artillery, hand grenades and four mid-size tanks while their opponents are being strangled with haggis and bagpipes.