Sunday 25 February 2018 / 03:08 AM


You’ve read me slag off the international breaks before, so I won’t bore you by repeating the same mantra, except to say:

I hate international breaks and I wish there weren’t any.

And it turns out that lots of other people agree with me, hence FIFA’s decision to discuss the idea of having a fewer international breaks during the season.

Right now the idea is just that, an idea, but the broad brush stroke plan would be to reduce the number of international breaks, but – and here’s the key – make them longer.

FIFA still feel that they need to get the same number of international matches completed during the domestic season, but it seems they accept the fact that they do potentially disrupt some clubs.

At present, there are four international breaks during the season, and each of them last two weeks – my assumption is that FIFA would look to reduce that to three breaks, adding three or four days onto each one.

I don’t think it’s a very good idea.

The problem isn’t the number of international breaks, it’s the pure and simple fact that the season is interrupted.

Say we went down to three – you’d still have the complaints from managers whose sides are on a roll, and you’d still have the concerns of clubs who want to protect their players from injury.

All it would do is reduce the frequency.

So I’ve got an alternative suggestion: get rid of the international breaks altogether.

I know what you’re thinking: how would teams qualify for the tournaments?

The answer is simple: by playing tournaments.

Right now, we have a European Championship ever four years, and a World Cup every four years, with every other year being a ‘fallow’ year with no tournament.

But by turning qualification into a tournament, you’d have a tournament every summer, and the clubs would get no interruption during the season.

So, each summer preceding a major tournament, you’d have a qualification tournament, with games coming thick and fast, in a two or three week window.

Then, that’d be it – no more international football until the major tournament the following summer.

It’d reduce fatigue, as players wouldn’t be forced to play every week of the season.

It’d improve interest in international football, as it wouldn’t be seen as a distraction.

It’d make club manager happier, as it wouldn’t be disrupting the domestic season.

Ultimately, it’s a solution with a lot of upsides, and few drawbacks.


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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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