Anorak News | Seeds Of Doubt

Seeds Of Doubt

by | 17th, October 2003

‘OK, here’s a problem for all you mathematicians, logicians and puzzle freaks out there – devise a seeding system for Euro 2004 in which the Czech Republic and Sweden are ranked higher than England and Italy. Or Spain and Germany.

Fans celebrate Uefa’s decision to award the Cup to Portugal

Give up? Well, there’s no point you thinking of applying for a job at Uefa, is there?

Indications are that, when the draw is made at the end of next month for next summer’s competition, the four top seeded sides will be holders France, hosts Portugal, Sweden and Czech Republic.

How so? Apparently, the seedings will be based on each country’s record in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup and for next summer’s championship.

Performances in Japan and South Korea don’t appear to count for anything, which is why England and Spain will not get any credit for reaching the quarter-finals.

And, more to the point, Turkey will get no credit for reaching the semi-final nor Germany for reaching the final.

If you are not already shaking your head in disbelief, try to get it round this.

The Czechs did not even qualify for the last World Cup, losing out to Denmark in the group stages and Belgium in the play-offs, and yet their qualification record is deemed better than, say, Italy and England, both of whom qualified for both events at the top of their group.

It takes a special kind of fool to come up with such an absurd system, but thankfully Uefa has them in abundance.

The Swedes have admittedly been impressive in qualifying, although it might be said that they have not had the toughest of groups.

However, even in qualifying, their record is no better than that of England, Italy and Spain (after adjustments made for the fact that they had a six-team group for World Cup qualifying).

All four teams posted 11 wins, four draws and a single defeat in the 16 matches that count.

So how does the Czech Republic fare so well? In its 16 counting games, it posted 12 wins, only two draws and two defeats – which adds up to 38 points, one ahead of the rest.

But the only reason why it ranks higher than the four teams mentioned is because it can discard its 0-0 draw with Malta in the World Cup qualifiers because Malta finished bottom of the group.

The whole thing is a complete and utter nonsense.

It is high time that Uefa – and Fifa – agreed a single, transparent method of seeding major tournaments and announced it before the qualifying has even begun.

Otherwise, it looks like what it is – a grubby little stitch-up.

For the record, according to current Fifa rankings, the top four seeds should be France, Spain, England and the Netherlands, assuming the Dutch and Spanish qualify.

The next four are Turkey (assuming they get past Latvia), Germany, the Czech Republic and Italy.

The four after that are Denmark, Portugal, Sweden and, if they beat Slovenia, Croatia. And the final four would be Greece, Bulgaria, Switzerland and the winner of Russia and Wales.’

Posted: 17th, October 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink