SANTA MONICA — What is left in the World Cup besides the Championship match? Well…there’s a third place bracket for Belgium and England to compete for the bronze.
Unlike the Olympics, third place in the World Cup means less — well, in the sports world in general third place means nothing. In the sports world, only the first place finisher matters and the second place matters because they made it to the finals but lost to the first. After that, the third place, fourth place, fifth place, etc. weren’t good enough to make the finals; it doesn’t matter when they were eliminated because they were eliminated.
The match borders on the line of shame and annoyance for both competitors and fans. A painful reminder that neither team was good enough to make it into the finals and doesn’t bear the prestige of making the cut like the Olympics.
“The honest thing to say is it’s not a game any team wants to play in,” Gareth Southgate diplomatically stated about the third bracket.
Belgium’s Roberto Martinez concurred with Southgate, stating, “It is a difficult emotion to manage. You are disappointed you lost the semifinal. It is difficult to almost see the opportunity to play another game as a positive.”
Mostly it’s hard to get a team back on track after the brutal reality of losing in the semi-finals.
“We have two days to prepare. We will want to give a performance of pride;” Southgate continued, “any time we wear the shirt of our national team we want to do that. But it will be a very difficult task to get everyone back to where we want them mentally.”
Scrapping It would mean reworking the schedule and broadcasting rights if FIFA really didn’t want so much down time between matches though. Letting the fans vote whether the third place bracket should be disregarded or kept would allow FIFA to gauge the match’s importance and draw to the World Cup. After all, soccer fans just love watching soccer so a third match may still be a draw at the end of the day.
However, every so often the third match may be worth the time. The England-Belgium match up probably presents one of the most competitive and interesting matchups the third bracket has offered in ages. The hype that followed England through the world cup has yet to dry up and still riddles the media world with articles, tweets and a world of new memes.
Is the third bracket worth ditching? Potentially, but this year could really show whether it is or not. England’s hype should draw the audiences to view the match and present one of the best matches in a while. If an audience doesn’t show to watch a team like England play in the World Cup third place bracket, then it would definitely be worth scrapping. If they do, well maybe there’s a reason they’ve kept the third place game alive.