Proposal for 48 team World Cup not popular

The proposal from Gianni Infantino for a 48 team World Cup has been met by an almost unanimous stream of opprobrium by twitter users. Or it was at least opposed by the twitter users I follow. And I guess that’s the point? Most of the people I follow have a UK or US centric view on football/soccer. Both England and the United States are likely to comfortably qualify for 32 team World Cup, despite the best efforts of each country not do (Thanks Allardyce/Klinsmann).

The obvious worries are that it will water-down the competition, that there’ll be too many games and that it will make the Panini album almost impossible to complete without a small bank-loan. All of these concerns are valid (especially the last one). However, if you view the 48 team World Cup from an Asian or African perspective then there are likely to be many more people keen on the idea. After all, only a limited number of countries qualify from these two huge continents and the thought of a couple more places for each continent would surely be voted for by the majority of AFC and CAF nations.

Rather than directly oppose the idea of a 48 team World Cup with groups of three, perhaps the football community should come up with a better format for this World Cup. Perhaps the best 24 nations in the World should qualify automatically, with the second best 24 sides playing off (either in groups of four, or as a straight playoff) for the final 12 places in a 32 team World Cup. This could easily be accommodated in the weeks leading up to a tournament when sides are normally playing warm-up games.

Like many things in football, if the idea makes money it’s likely to be implemented. And 48 teams means more games, and more money. It also gives the nations with the larger TV audiences (like England and USA) that extra bit of leeway, just in case they do wish to employ Gareth Southgate and Bruce Arena as national team coaches.

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Playing for more than one nation

It’s rare for footballers to play for more than one nation. If a player plays for a country in a FIFA accredited match they are then unable to play for another. However there are still numerous cases of players playing for two different nations before this rule was implemented, also players who have played in friendlies for one country before playing for another and many players have played for sides before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

We’ve picked a side of players who have played for more than one nation. The only criteria being that we couldn’t pick more than one player who had the same combinations of countries.

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In goal we have former Chelsea shot-stopper Dmirti Kharine. As always when picking XI’s the goalkeeper spot is always the hardest to fill. We’ve chosen Kharine who played for the Soviet Union as well as Russia.

The back-line features Matthias Sammer, an excellent ball playing defender who played for East Germany before re-unification before becoming an important member of Germany’s Euro 96 winning side. Alongside him is Arsenal defender Oleg Luzhny who played for the Soviet Union before its break-up, and played for Ukraine afterwards.

Nacer Chadli is a player whose international alleigances lie across two continents. He played for Morocco in a friendly in Northern Ireland in 2010, yet later committed his international future to Belgium where has played over 30 times for the nation of his birth.

It would be wrong not to have a player who played for Czechoslovakia and one of Czech Republic or Slovakia, and the role in this side goes to Ľubomír Moravčík who played 42 games for Czechoslovakia and 38 times for Slovakia. Alongside him in midfield is Jermaine Jones who played for German youth sides before making three appearances for the full national team in 2008. As these games were only friendlies he still had the opportunity to switch, and did so in 2010 when he opted to play for the United States.

Ferenc Puskas is an interesting addition to the team. One of the greatest players of all time and is famous for playing a huge part in one of the best sides of all time: the Hungarian team of the 1950s. Yet, he took Spanish citizenship in the early 60s and played four games for his adopted nation at the 1962 World Cup. However, by this point of his career the magic was fading and he failed to find the net.

Perhaps even more intriguingly than Puskas, the figure of Kubala also makes our XI. Kubala played internationally for Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Spain. He even turned out for Catalonia in unofficial matches and netted a brace for a Europe XI at Wembley against a  England. Kubala played 180 matches for Barcelona and scored 131 times. A self-confessed “cosmopolitan” it would be hard not to make László Kubala captain of this side.

Michel Platini may seem to many to be a surprise selection in this side. However, it’s hard not to include him if only to detail the strange fact that Platini, one of the greatest European players of all time, once turned out for Kuwait in an international friendly (his last ever international match in 1988) Why Platini played for this oil-rich nation is unclear.

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Alfredo Di Stéfano

Up front is Alfredo Di Stéfano who played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain. The four matches he played for Colombia were not recognised by FIFA, however the games for Argentina and Spain still allow him to qualify for this XI. Despite playing for three separate international sides, Di Stefano never played in a World Cup Finals tournament.

Completing our eleven is Juan Alberto Schiaffino who scored in Uruguay’s 1950 World Cup Final win over Brazil. He later moved to Italy and played for the Azzuri as his grandfather came from the Genoa region. Schiaffino joins an elite club of players to have played or two elite footballing nations as well as three club giants in  Penarol, Milan and Roma.

The source from this article, and a more comprehensive list of players who have played for more than one country can be found on the excellent RSSSF site here: http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/double-caps.html

East Stirlingshire seek opposition from old video clip

This is a lovely tweet from East Stirlingshire who were recently demoted from the Scottish League and play in the Lowland Leagues. They are trying to ascertain whether the opponents in the clip were Cowdenbeath. This appears very possible as Cowdenbeath are famously nickanmed the Blue Brazils and turn out in blue shirts and white shorts.

Jokes about the pace of play in the olden days are unfair as it appears the video is slowed slightly. It’s still a lovely little story and hopefully they’ll get a resolution.

English players in Italy XI

Joe Hart’s loan move to Torino means it’s now possible to create an XI of English players who have played in Italy. And it’s quite a team. I’ve selected a 4-2-3-1 formation as it appears Serie A clubs love an English midfielder.

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There are plenty of players who miss out on the XI including Trevor Francis, Luther Blissett, Gordan Cowans and Gerry Hitchens. It should also be mentioned that Jay Bothroyd, Tony Dorigo, Franz Carr and Lee Sharpe also miss out (yes, they all played in Italy!).

AMS Clothing, the kings of international football shirts

AMS Clothing have a reputation of producing some of the most eye-catching jerseys in international football. They’ve cornered the market in Africa for creating some excellent designs while Puma churn out the same old boring kits.

They currently supply kits to the African powers of Eritrea, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and one of the newest members of FIFA: South Sudan. If that wasn’t pushing their hipster credentials enough they’ve also recently revealed they are providing the kits for the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

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You can take a look at their excellent website here and get yourself kitted out for the new season in style: http://ams-clothing.com/ and you can follow them for all their latest news on twitter here: https://twitter.com/amsclothing1

World Cup 1958: Team of the tournament

The history of journalists picking a team of a tournament goes back a long way. The 1958 World Cup in Sweden was no different with a gaggle of journos picking their best 11 from the competition.

Unsurprisingly there are a lot of Brazilians in the starting XI, along with the excellent Raymond Kopa and a few Swedes (they made the final). What’s perhaps startling when you look at the team is that there are five forwards, yet no place is found for Just Fontaine who scored a staggering 13 goals at these finals. What more does a man have to do to make the team?

Despite their being four British teams at the tournament, Harry Gregg of Northern Ireland is the only Brit to make the final XI.

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Euro 2016 preview podcasts

There’s a whole swathe of podcasts to fill your ears with as the European Championship Finals in France arrive this weekend. We thought we’d give you a run down on some of the options you have.

If you’d like some discussion on who England should take:

And even more about squads with the Sound of Football chaps:

Perhaps you’d like the view of a few guys travelling around France in a minivan:

Or a few guys at home previewing the tournament in a more traditional way

Maybe you want something team specific, like this on France:

Or this on the Wales national side:

Or Portugal perhaps?:

A general preview can be found here:

And here:

And also here:

And even here:

Bold claim from Man on the Post that they cover all 24 teams:

If you know of any more, please don’t hesitate to let us know!