Over at The World Cup Blog, Bob has a few suggestions for improving future World Cups. From eliminating shoot-outs to playing a two-match final, the suggestions are definitely bold!

Don’t decide games on penalty kicks: Even though they make for great drama, penalty kicks always leave us feeling like we’ve been cheated from seeing the best result. We say let the teams play until someone wins or their players’ legs fall off.

Play a two-game final: What is better than a thrilling final? How about a two-game aggregate affair! Over 180 minutes the best team will usually win.

More qualifying play-in matches between federations: Anybody who watched Trinidad and Tobago play Bahrain and Australia play Uruguay for the right to advance to the World Cup will tell you how dramatic those home-and-away matches were for everyone involved. Not sure how it would work, but we’d enjoy seeing some European teams playing African teams, for example.

Don’t give an automatic qualifying spot to the host country: We know that the home fans want to see their team, but they should have to qualify like everyone else.

Make the seeding process more relevant: The top eight seeds before the draw are determined by a complex formula that rewards historical performance more than current form. It shouldn’t matter how a team played eight years ago in the World Cup.

I’m speechless… OK not really.

Penalty Kicks I can understand how some people feel a shoot-out isn’t a fair resolution to a match. However, when you have played for 90 minutes or more and no goal shave been scored, it’s time to use another measure for the best team. What better way than to pit your best shooters against the keeper? Playing until someone scores would place the winning team at a huge disadvantage compared to other teams since they would be exhausted, if the match went to, say, 150 minutes.

Two Match Final This one has me scratching my head. A final in any sport is exciting because it is the final. No more chances, it’s all on the line. A two match final seems like it would be anti-climactic if one team dominated the other in the first match – everyone would expect the second match to be a sleeper.

More Qualifying This one would be nice. Being able to see more matches between national teams would be great. However this would have a bigger impact on the professional players and I fear we’d see more and more matches between teams of lesser players since the professionals can only give up so much time to pursue national team commitments.

Host Qualifying Of course the host country should get a spot. They’re hosting the biggest sporting event in the world and should get a place at the table. I shudder to think of how different 1994 would have been if we didn’t get a spot and failed to qualify.

Seeding I’m pretty ambivalent about this. On the surface it seems unfair for teams with a strong history to gain advantage in the here and now. But there is a method to the FIFA madness as a commentor from the World Cup Blog points out:

As for the seeding formula, the nature of a tournament’s seeding is to reward the competitors that have performed better in the past, so they have it easier to progress and the final rounds are more competitive. Nobody wants to see all the heavyweights out by the third round. This sort of thinking is also applied in, say, tennis tournaments, where even if a player has gone down in the world rankings, he/she still has a chance to be seeded if he/she did well in the previous tournament. The difference is that most of those tournaments are held every year. So maybe the seeding formula shouldn’t take into account performances three or two tournaments ago, but it should definetly take into account the last tournament’s standings.

I’m of the same mindset. I’m not sure going back more than on World Cup for past performance makes sense, but you should try to prevent death matches between heavyweights in the early rounds.

I think oveall the World Cup is excellent as is (that’s me – Mr. Stick In The Mud) Tweak a few things here and there, sure. But drastic changes like these are scary stuff and I’m not sure the World Cup would be better for them.