If there is one thing that really grinds my gears, it is when teams that win tournaments do not get an automatic bid back the next time around. For the World Cup it makes perfect sense. If you were considered the greatest team in the entire world in 2006 then you should be given the fair opportunity to defend your title next time around in 2010. Think this is a silly argument? Just ask golfers what they think.
It is a known fact that if you ever win the Masters then you are invited back to Augusta every single time the tournament comes up on the calender. That means eighty-something year old Arnie Palmer can step up to the first tee, waive to the crowd, and then whack a 400 yard drive down the fairway. Well maybe the distance was an exaggeration, but everything else about the Masters is true. They let every winner EVER play in the tournament every year. Now if they will only let every day people play there!
The policy should be the similar for the World Cup. Every Cup the host nati0n is given a tournament birth, so why not the defending champs? I understand that there are only so many spaces each time around, but to deny Italy a Cup birth would be like denying Tom Watson a tee time.
Fans of the sport want to see the fascinating stories of a Cup play out as well. Can a team repeat? Will they shake up the roster or go with what worked last year? These are the type of questions that surround such an interesting story.
Italy will likely not need the help this time around. With a win over Ireland or even a draw in October they will be granted a World Cup birth.
Too bad it will be four years later then it should have been.