Monday, March 28, 2011

International Friendlies

If ever there was an exercise in pointlessness then it is the International Friendly Match. There is nothing that will change with regard to these frivolous occasions in terms of their frequency due to the Football Associations wishing to pay for their bills, but it something that fans should learn to boycott.

Unlike test matches in rugby which appear to hold some signficance such as the Bledisloe Cup between Australia and New Zealand, these arbitrary fixtures serve no purpose other than to tire and injure footballers, congest an already cluttered calendar further and stuff the pockets of the National Associations by ripping off eager fans thinking they are watching a competitive event.

Scotland's friendly yesterday at the Emirates is a case in point. Most of Brazil's big guns were not there, Scotland practised against a team which will help them in no way in preparation of any of the European opponents they will play against in qualifying and what did we learn, That Brazil are better than Scotland? Surely we don't need a friendly to tell us that and not one that charges upto 65 pounds per ticket for the privilege. It is also interesting to see that Scotland is now hosting its' friendly matches in England although I'm sure they will argue it was Brazil that chose the venue even though Hampden, Ibrox, Celtic Park and Murrayfield are all 45 minutes away on a plane. Surely they could have been persuaded to play in Scotland?

Fabio Cappello has already stated that he is going to make eleven changes for England's 'glamour friendly' against Ghana on Wednesday evening. One would presume he played his strongest team against Wales so he is effectively sending out an England 'B Team' whilst the FA I am quite sure will still be charging fans top dollar to go to the match.

Whilst not wishing to be naive about the finances and reality of football, quite simply if the Football Associations are going to insist on these events should they not either inform their managers to take the matches as seriously as possible and to field their strongest side or reduce the price of the tickets accordingly? It is not unusual to see almost the entire team substituted at half time in these games, they are practice matches and nothing more.

The build up to the Brazil game (why on earth does a friendly require a build up?) was a nonsense - and there should be NO nonsense - as can anyone really say the game mattered in any shape for form? The clubs also lose out, Liverpool lost Steven Gerrard at a critical time earlier this season when he was injured in a friendly against France. We had the World Cup last year end on the 11th of July yet there was another round of friendly internationals in August only four weeks later before the start of the European league season. There is only down side for fans and clubs with these rip off fixtures with the only the coffers of the Football Associations gaining in any tangible way - No Nonsense.