France’s Camille Abily has attacked the structure of the Women’s World Cup bracket after their heartbreaking loss on penalties to Germany in the quarterfinals.
As the world’s third-ranked team behind Germany and the United States, France was expected to progress much farther than the quarters, but they ran into one of the two teams ranked above them with eight teams still remaining in the tournament. This is due in large part to the pre-arranged seeding FIFA used, in their own words, “for ticketing and promotion reasons.”
Essentially, FIFA pre-selected the most likely knockout stage rounds and placed them in certain parts to make the most money off the games, instead of using the random draw they do on the men’s side. Thus, the world soccer governing body decided an earlier-than-expected meeting between two of the world’s most successful teams in a French-speaking city was the most viable option. Unfortunately, the French are the victims, and Abily was none too pleased.
When asked by French paper L’Equipe about if she was frustrated by facing Germany so early in the tournament, Abily responded,
“Yes, unfortunately, we are going back to that but FIFA did not conduct a real draw. This is not to blame them [for the loss] but why don’t we do it like the men? [Group] A1 is Canada and for the rest, we would’ve be drawn randomly according to our seeding. Do not tell me that for the World Cup, there wasn’t anybody in Moncton! At some point they have to stop taking us for idiots … I’m sorry but if they did a real draw, maybe we would not have played Germany or the United States at a later stage. Inevitably, it’s frustrating even if we knew this from the start. The hope was still to go all the way, as we proved Friday.”
Those are strong words from a player who suffered the consequences. France had their chance, and quite frankly dominated most of the game, but the outcome is still harsh.
Things aren’t easy for Germany – the world’s #1-ranked team – either. They are now forced to play the #2 and #3-ranked teams in back-to-back games, just to make the final. On the other side of the bracket, meanwhile, sit the defending champions Japan plus England, Australia, and the hosts Canada, which quite blatantly appears to be an attempt to get Canada as far as possible in the tournament.
We knew this was coming. The Sports Illustrated article with Jerome Valcke’s comments about the pre-seeding came out over two weeks ago, and everyone immediately knew what would come of it. But here we are, with the consequences visible in front of us, and it’s just as painful as we thought it would be.
Speaking of painful, don’t forget all these games are being played on turf.