After living through roughly 42 back-to-back PR-pocalypses over the last few years, FIFA finally chalked a line up in the ‘win’ column yesterday, with the announcement that plans for the 2022 World Cup to involve 48 teams have been shelved.
It’ll be a normal(ish) tournament with 32 nations, which means (a) that it won’t last for three months, and (b) no stupid maths will be required to decide who gets into the knockout stages. These are good things.
The decision naturally gave rise to much larking about stopped clocks and the like, but The Warm-Up wonders whether this wasn’t a more strategic play. Make a decision look terrible in a number of distinct ways, and rolling back one aspect of it later makes the remaining meal look more palatable.
World Cup under the baking hot Qatar sun midway through the European season and with 48 teams: BAD.
World Cup under the baking hot Qatar sun midway through the European season and with 32 teams: YES, FIFA HAVE NAILED THIS.
Image credit: Getty Images
The danger, of course, is that this rationale will be rolled out in future tournaments, but ever more spectacularly.
World Cup 2026: Hosted by North Korea, involving 96 nations, with a preliminary knockout round that resembles The Hunger Games. But wait! We’ve decided against the Hunger Games bit!
World Cup 2030: Hosted by Mars Colony, involving four nations and members of the European Super League, and the football itself will be replaced by a literal timebomb! But wait! We’ve decided against the bomb part!
World Cup 2034: Entire physical tournament replaced by e-sports simulation, with bonus points available for offensive usernames, and the trophy replaced by a Bitcoin prize fund. But wait! It’ll be Ethereum, not Bitcoin!
Should I stay or should I go?
We go live to the Maurizio Sarri Misery Roadshow now, with the main man’s views on the suggestion that he will be handed a P45 if Chelsea fail to beat Arsenal in Baku next week.
Maxi Allegri and Maurizio Sarri
Image credit: Getty Images
“If the situation is like this, I want to go immediately,” the Italian said yesterday. “You cannot… 10 months of work, and then I have to play everything in 90 minutes? It’s not right. It’s not the right way. You’re either happy about my work or you’re not happy.”
It is a reasonable point, but with Chelsea fans still far from convinced, you do worry whether the powers that be will take it as an invitation rather than a rebuke. Still, at least they’re not preparing for what should be a celebratory final chapter to their season or anything.
Wright in the wrong
“He tweets what he wants! He tweets what he waaaaaants! That man Wrighty, he tweets what he wants!”
Except, erm, sorry Ian Wright, this is the Arsenal marketing department and those kits are embargoed until 1 June on strict instruction of our sponsors, so you’ll be pressing ‘delete’ at your next convenience.
Still, we’re sure absolutely no one will have taken screenshots and distributed them globally in the blink of an eye. That seems completely far-fetched. No harm done.
(And the kits themselves? I think The Warm-Up speaks for everyone with eyes when I say: SWOON.)
IN OTHER NEWS
The Warm-Up happily gobbled up two great little managerial nuggets on Twitter yesterday. The first was this Tony Mobray verbal tick best-of compilation (Now That’s What I Call Platitudes!) from someone who followed his time at Middlesbrough closely.
Language is what it is.
The second was this list of Premier League managers who have been sacked more than once in the time Theresa May has been prime minister. In fact, in Allardyce’s case, the total is four: England sent him packing, as well as three clubs.
Make mine a pint of wine when I’m back from voting in the EU elections.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Mick McCarthy
Humanity’s greatest Sam Eagle look-alike won Wednesday’s Deadpan Delivery of the Day award by an absolute mile…
If we’re not careful, every single football team in the entire world is going to ditch their traditional badges in favour of marketing-department-approved rip-offs of the Juventus rebrand.
“Right, so forget the old Manchester United crest. This one just says… M.”
The Warm-Up had completely forgotten about this gem of an advert until it popped up on Twitter yesterday. But you can be sure it’s firmly wedged in the memory bank now.
“THAT’S FOOTBALL, LUIGI!” – what a line.
And Peter Schmeichel’s delivery of the final line – “Funny!” – is absolutely chefkissingfingers.gif.
Next week: The Jungle World Cup.
IN THE CHANNELS
It’s transfer season again, which of course means we’re back in the mad old world of quirky announcement videos on Twitter. It’s going to be a long summer on that front, but the early clubhouse leader is this effort from Borussia Dortmund, who confirmed the signing of Thorgan Hazard like this yesterday:
An honourable mention must go to Walsall, too, for their deployment of Jim Broadbent in this teaser:
And you know what? The man in question, Stuart Sinclair, really does have a mighty, mighty beard on him. He looks like Tormund Giantsbane’s kid brother! More vital facial-hair news as we get it.
There’s nothing particularly exciting going on in the football world, unless you’re into your – checks notes – Latvian Cup or Congolese Ligue 1. But you can watch stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia on Eurosport 1 from 12.15, which should be good because there are some actual hills on today’s route. Yay!