DAVID PYE: World Cup's third-place play-off one of saddest events in sport

David Pye

David Pye

First published in Sport

IS the World Cup third/fourth place play-off not the most pointless sporting event known to man?

Whoever came up with the idea needed a word in their ears at the time, and just why FIFA persist with it I will never know.

Neither Brazil or Holland want to be there tomorrow being publicly shown up as the bridesmaids to the final 24 hours later.

It is like inviting your ex-girlfriend to your wedding.

You may as well get Jim Bowen involved as well to recreate his famous Bullseye catch phrase: ‘Scolari and Van Gaal – here’s what you could have won’.

I suspect when footballers lose any match the first thing they want to do is go straight home and put their heads under the covers to let the furore die down. You can increase that sensation 10-fold when it is the World Cup semi-final.

But in FIFA’s infinite wisdom, Holland and Brazil have to stay on and go through the complete charade that is the wooden spoon match, and neither will be relishing that.

The hosts, in particular, will probably be fearing even stepping out on to the pitch again in Brasilia after their humiliation in front of a huge global audience against the German machine.

But spare a thought for the fans as well – what sort of game are they going to witness?

If it is anything like the only one I really remember, when England played Italy in 1990, it will be a glorified friendly.

As a football fanatic wanting to drink every last drop of this World Cup, I will still be tuning in tomorrow night. But once Brazil were dumped out on Tuesday, I was praying for Holland to win the other semi-final just so we could watch the hosts take on Argentina – now that would have added much-needed spice.

As it stands, it will be the usual dress rehearsal for Sunday’s big final, but there needs to be a rethink for future tournaments.

We do not see it anywhere else other than the Olympics where the beaten semi-finalists play for the prize of a bronze medal.

There is little at stake tomorrow and the two sides are obliged to play.

Imagine asking the beaten Wimbledon semi-finalists to provide the pre-final entertainment on Centre Court or asking Mark Cavendish or Chris Froome to get back from injury to race-off to see who might have won the Tour de France.

It just wouldn’t happen.

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