Following his side’s exit from the World Cup at the hands of Argentina on Wednesday, Holland manager Louis van Gaal explained that having a third-place match for the World Cup was pointless.
“I think this match should never be played and I’ve been saying this for 10 years,” Van Gaal noted in his post match press conference.
Despite being his reputation as a controversial figure, however, Van Gaal’s reasoning behind the theory is quite sound. “It is unfair we have one day less to recover than our opponent so that is not fair play either,” he said.
Not only do the Dutch have one day less than Brazil to recover but they only have two days of total recovery before the third-place match is scheduled to be played.
Forty-eight hours of recovery after a match lasting 120 minutes plus penalties?! That’s not just unfair, that’s a health risk. Of course, Van Gaal being Van Gaal had more pressing concerns than the mere health of his players.
“But the worst thing is I believe that chances are that you lose twice in a row. And a tournament in which you’ve played so marvelously well you would go home as a loser just because you could possibly have lost the last two matches and this has got nothing to do with sports in my view.”
“So, in a football tournament particularly not at the last stage you shouldn’t have players playing match for third-fourth place. Because there is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champion.”
Points well taken from the Dutch manager but the health factor can’t be overemphasized in this matter – after playing five matches at the highest level possible following a full season of club football, asking players to compete mere days after a grueling semifinal is outlandish.
Either FIFA needs to address the issue as soon as possible or they can not only expect both Holland and Brazil to put out their B squads but for the level of competition to resemble something along the lines of the NFL Pro Bowl.