7/1/08

Keven Says: Scotland in the European Championships?

Keven
After two overtly political and highly divisive posts, here's one we can all get behind. Scotland must not be allowed to qualify for Euro 2016.

First a little background and history. The finals of the European Football Championship finished on Sunday, after having been played in Switzerland and Austria. This tournament takes place every four years, opposite the World Cup. Like the World Cup, there are qualifying rounds followed by a final tournament. Between 1960 and 1976, the finals consisted of only four teams (semis followed by final), then eight teams until 1992, and 16 since 1996.

Now it's looking like from 2016, this will be expanded to 24 teams.

Consider there are 53 nations in European football, and there are unlikely to be many more beyond the addition of Kosovo and Gibraltar, and maybe Belgium splitting in two or the creation of a Basque homeland. This means nearly half of Europe would qualify for the finals. Consider as well that there are a lot of very small countries in Europe. The 28th ranked team in Europe currently is Moldova. For crying out loud the 21st ranked team is Northern Ireland!

Sean Connery, lookin' fineSo who is responsible for this abomination of an idea? Turns out it's the Scottish FA, the body responsible for the Scottish national team. This is the Scotland who haven't qualified for a major tournament since 1998, and haven't won a game at one since the 18 June 1996 (but who's counting?). So what would have happened if there were 24 teams in the finals since the last time Scotland played in one? Well obviously Scotland would have qualified in each and every one.

A young and adorable Gerard ButlerBut do they really want that? If there's one thing I've learned watching an England-free Euro 2008, it's actually kind of liberating not having to worry about who we'll scrape past while playing abysmally, or who we'll lose to on penalties. Then remember, the Scots are even worse than England. (Sorry to all the Scots out there. You'll have to face this. It's demographically driven, in that more people equals more chance of passable international footballers, given all other things being equal.)

Smile for me, Ewan!Scottish fans will have to go to the finals worrying which European version of Costa Rica, Morocco or Iran they'll lose to, or whether they can keep the Dutch to less than six goals this time. Does that sound like a good time? No. It would be better for the Scots to just support whoever is playing against England at the time, assuming we qualify. This would mean that unless Hell freezes over and England win the whole thing, the Scots would be guaranteed at least one win. It would also guarantee that they would be able to support a team better than Scotland.

This is why it's of vital importance that Scotland should not be allowed to sneak their way into the finals. It's for the sake of the Scots.

[Editor's note: Comments by Keven Lofty in the "Keven Says" column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his dear and patient wife, who has no personal or national grudge whatsoever against adorable Scottish men, and who, as editor, gets to pick the images.]

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