FIFA move is not fair play
ensures that even if Israel did slip through the net, they would probably face a mammoth task against one of the giants of European football thanks to a current ranking of 22nd in the world.
There is no harm in that, providing the route was always mapped out. Some still regard the Football League play-offs as unfair, yet clubs know before the season starts that to be guaranteed promotion to the Premier League a top two finish is required. Fall short and enter the play-offs. Everyone knows where they stand.
That is not true of the World Cup. Who knew what was happening until FIFA alighted on the format at the last minute from, by the looks of it, a subjective position? John Delaney of the Football Association of Ireland said that a year ago FIFA advised that the draw would most likely not be seeded. It is this vagueness that is so wrong. The rules should be known on the day the tournament begins; football’s governing body, of all people, should not be making them up as they go along.
Partisan emotions aside, we all want to see the best players and the best teams at the tournament. Nobody would be too thrilled if Ronaldo missed out while Norway were given an easy ride; everybody understands the logic. Yet these details must be agreed in advance rather than at the push of a panic button. Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, is very fond of fair play; he might like to try some himself. Martin Samuel is the chief sports writer of the Daily Mail, where his column appears on Monday and Wednesday