International Football v. Club Football

Manchester City midfielder, Stephen Ireland has stated that international football will become an anachronism, and top players will start to retire young from the “chore” of having to play international football. In the coming decades, tournaments such as the World Cup or European Championships will decrease in value as their importance will fade, due to the rising popularity of international club football.

Tournaments, such as the FIFA World Club Cup will grow and expand. The Champions League and Copa Libertadores are already held by many professionals in higher regard than World Cup qualifiers that see Belarus play Khazakstan. Alexander Hleb has played for Barcelona and Belarus. I’m sure if he had to choose between the two, he would choose Barcelona every time.

Last week, 14 players pulled out of the Scotland squad to face Japan. Stephen Ireland says that he’s retired from playing for Ireland even though he is only 23.

Let’s face it, watching Arsenal v Boca Juniors in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup is a lot more appealing than watching Ukraine versus England. But I’m a die hard supporter and fans like me, generally do not care about their national team.

However, we die hard fans do not represent the rest of the population, especially those people that are not football fans, but who come alive when ever the World Cup finals start. It also depends on the country. Players from Brazil, Argentina or France, find playing for their country is the highlight of their career.

An American Arsenal fan would rather watch the USA win the World Cup than Arsenal win the FIFA World Club Cup. Ditto that of Brazilian fans of the team Corinthians winning the World Club title.

Winning the World Cup, an event that takes place once every four years, is a statement about a nation – for this reason international football will continue to have the power to reach more people on a deeper basis than the club game.

If Stephen Ireland had the chance to represent a nation of over 190 million, all desperate to win the World Cup, I doubt very much that he’d see it as a chore. He would probably view it as the highlight of his career.


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