I used to be a supporter of letting all of the teams in FIFA’s world rankings compete for a place in the World Cup, but I am now coming round to the argument that teams like Andora should go through a pre-qualification phase before they’re allowed to play against the bigger teams.
One of Andora’s players plays in Spain’s fourth division, another in Italy’s second, most aren’t full-time footballers. We don’t let teams that low start playing against premier league teams in the FA Cup, why should we do it at international level?
To give you an idea. There are 207 teams in the world ranking, Andora rank 196, so there are only 11 teams in the world below them. The other teams in England’s World Cup qualifying group are:
- Kazakhstan, ranked 132
- Ukraine, ranked 19
- Croatia, ranked 8
- Belarus, ranked 81
England are ranked 6th. So, my thinking is, why are we playing Andora, Kazakhstan and Belarus? Let them have a pre-tournament and earn the right to play teams in the top 50. Otherwise we risk turning internationals into a pointless exercise.