8

Referring to the question here, the first and second paragraph.

On Thursday at 2pm GMT, the football matches for group H of the World Cup 2018 will begin. By 4 pm GMT, the fate of that group will be decided.

Let us assume that Japan comes first and Colombia comes second (not an unlikely outcome, actually), both hence qualifying for the second round. Now, at 6pm GMT, the matches of group G begin. Belgium and England are already qualified for the next round, but they play against each other in order to decide who goes first, and thus, to decide whom are they to play in the next round.

The problem with this arrangement, as mentioned in the question, is that England and Belgium can be unsportsmanlike in order to receive a more favorable opponent in the next round.

I know that the teams involved in unsportsmanlike behavior can be investigated and punished, but still, why FIFA not just decided to start all four matches simultaneously? This would reduce the possibility of deliberate losing.

Another alternative solution is that FIFA can consider to let all the qualifying teams to draw the lots again after all group matches complete, so that no one can "choose the opponent", why this is not done?

  • Related: Disgrace of Gijón. This kind of unsportsmanlike play in the last game of the group match happened at the 1982 World Cup. They addressed it partially by at least playing the last matches in each group simultaneously. Taking it one step further and playing last matches of each group simultaneously would be a good idea, but there's the money vs fair play tradeoff. – Masked Man Jun 27 '18 at 16:06
  • Iceland were theoretically the preferred opponent for England at Euros 2016... – Gareth Lyons Jun 27 '18 at 17:32
7

Why FIFA not just decided to start all four matches simultaneously?

This one is easy as already answered in the other answer. By forcing 3rd round matches of the same group to be played simultaneously FIFA is already losing some revenue. This loss would be even greater if FIFA forced the matches across 2 groups to be played simultaneously.

FIFA can consider to let all the qualifying teams to draw the lots again after all group matches complete, so that no one can "choose the opponent", why this is not done?

The main reason for not doing that is the rest time. As a tournament, FIFA World Cup (which lasts only 32 days) doesn't have the same flexibility as other tournaments with similar format (e.g. UEFA Champions League which spans over 9 months).

The teams which qualify from groups A and B are expected to play their round of 16 games earlier than the ones from C and D, because teams from A and B finish their last group matches one day before than teams from C and D. The difference will become even more crucial if a team qualified from group A or B would be drawn against a team from G or H. Then the team from A or B would have had 3 rest days more than a team from G or H. In a tournament with such a busy schedule 3 rest days can be a decisive factor. This is the main reason why FIFA World Cup doesn't use drawing of lots during the tournament like UEFA Champions League and teams which finish their last group matches on the same day play against each other in the round of 16.

11

why FIFA not just decided to start all four matches simultaneously?

Because that reduces the television audience. Having two matches at the same time is bad enough, four matches just makes it worse.

Also note that in this case, it's not the round of 16 game (which is group G vs group H) which is the issue, but the quarter-final. You'd have had to have played eight matches (everything from groups D, E, G and H) to avoid the issue.

FIFA can consider to let all the qualifying teams to draw the lots again after all group matches complete, so that no one can "choose the opponent", why this is not done?

Because it's awful for fans. As (say) an England fan, at the moment I know that England will play their round of 16 game in one of two locations, and the companies arranging travel / hotels are able to handle two possibilities for the match. With a random draw, England could end up in any of eight locations, which would make it much harder for fans and travel companies to arrange.

-1

Bear in mind that the winner of group A plays the runner-up in group B and vice-versa.

It's unlikely that you'd prefer to play the group winner over the group runner-up (although I guess it's possible) - so you're unlikely to want to lose the match.

A draw might be enough to keep you at the top, and your opponent might decide to play for the draw also, keeping runner-up rather than risking a loss and not continuing - that's hardly cheating - although it'd make for a tedious game(*)

It's hard to think of a scenario where both teams get the best outcome for themselves with the same result

..and of course, money.

(*) For those who don't find all football tedious!

  • 3
    "It's unlikely that you'd prefer to play the group winner over the group runner-up (although I guess it's possible) - so you're unlikely to want to lose the match." While somewhat unlikely, this is exactly the situation being discussed here - and it's not the first time this has happened in various sports - see the badminton example from my answer. – Philip Kendall Jun 27 '18 at 21:27
  • "It's unlikely that you'd prefer to play the group winner over the group runner-up (although I guess it's possible) - so you're unlikely to want to lose the match." ... and that is exactly what happened in the England vs Belgium farce, where both sides sent their "B" teams and tried losing while pretending to win. The Japan vs Poland match was only slightly better. – Masked Man Jul 1 '18 at 4:57
  • ..it's a high stakes game though, losing so you play the team you think is weaker, despite their winning their group. The reason to send the B team is because the cost of losing is less than the benefit of resting, lower injury risk of the A team – Paul Nicklin Jul 4 '18 at 7:57

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