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Fair point for France in being upset with World Cup play-off system

| 16.10.2013

France are a nation that are upset by the seeding system for the European play-offs ahead of the 2014 World Cup and in reality they do have a point.

It should first be noted that the system is the same as what it was four years ago when France benefited from being one of the seeded teams and qualified at the expense of the Republic Of Ireland.

Conveniently, on this occasion, they seemed content with the play-off system.

Fast forward four years and they need to use the play-off route again if they wish to qualify for the World Cup, having had the misfortune of being positioned alongside defending champions Spain in their qualification group.

However, this time, Les Bleus are not one of the four teams seeded in the play-off matches, meaning they will face one of Portugal, Greece, Croatia or Ukraine to qualify for Brazil, rather than the likes of Iceland or Romania, which would have been regarded as easier contests.

The four seeds are determined by world rankings and France’s argument is that they only had five teams in their qualifying group, whereas every other group contained six teams.

The French Federation’s president Noel Le Graet has argued that this has prevented his nation being able to compete for the same number of ranking points as other teams, leaving them at a disadvantage.

Satisfying everyone is always difficult and the African qualifying system is the worst, as all five spots are settled via play-offs, regardless of whether one nation triumphed in 100 per cent of their group matches or only snuck through on goal difference.

Another option would be just to draw at random the four play-off matches, although there is a risk that this could penalise two of the most proficient qualifiers by pitting them against each other.

Arguably, the fairest method would be to have a system similar to the Championship play-offs in England, where the team in the play-offs with the most points faces the worst and the second best faces the second worst etc.

France are currently 20/1 in the World Cup odds and this could be deemed a bit short to win the tournament, bearing in mind that they still haven’t qualified yet and are likely to be positioned in pot three of the seeding structure, even if they do reach Brazil.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Author

Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.