by Dan Beale

For over a week now, there has been no domestic football above the level of League 1 in England. The rest of the world cuts a similar story, with the premier divisions in all countries on a sabbatical. The reason is the current round of World Cup Qualifiers, which as always, has been fantastic…

I’m just not a fan of International breaks during the season at all. I hate how it breaks up the momentum of the domestic seasons and all of a sudden you have your best players jet setting off around the world for a game that can carry no meaning at all. The term pointless friendly gets banded around a lot these days, and for me all International friendlies during the season are meaningless. I hate the notion of a friendly game, you play to win no matter the opposition or the occasion, and to put a defeat to one side because it was simply a “friendly” really irks me. Play to win, or don’t bother playing at all.

There are so many reasons why I dislike International breaks but these are my top 5:

1. No football on Saturday’s
Since FIFA have decided that the fixtures in an International week will be played on Friday and then the following Tuesday, they have also been selfish enough to leave me with an empty weekend. After working and going to Uni all week, there is nothing better waking up (slightly hungover) on a Saturday and watching the Saturday games. Then once that is done you have Match of the Day, followed by Sunday’s televised fixtures. However, during International week there is no game to wake up on a weekend for, no highlights package to watch over the weekend and a lack of talking points. At least previously Internationals would be on a Saturday but no longer is that the case. Everyone knows weekends without football are dull.

2. Worry that your players will come back injured
Even if you do like International football, there is no possible way that you will watch a game and not worry about a player who plays for the domestic club you support. We’ve all been there. You see your player, who has been in fantastic form, go in for a 50/50 challenge and you wince as he hits the tackle. I feel that way every time Gerrard plays for England, and used to feel like that when Torres was still at Liverpool. At the end of the day, why should you lose one of your best players to an injury they sustained playing for their country? They play for your club week in week out whilst your club pays their wages, and realistically you want them to achieve far more at domestic level than on the International scene. If anyone tells you they aren’t bothered if one of their players comes back injured from International duty, they’re lying.

3. Rubbish Sports Stories
Why does every International footballer decide he wants to give an interview about his domestic club in his homeland every time there is an International break? Without fail at least one of the players from your club team will give an interview during the break about your side. This leads to all sorts of problems. First of all the mistranslation back into English by the media leads to stories being put out to fill the back pages. A perfect example of this is Suarez’s interview in Uruguay this last week. The initial story came out that he said he would “consider his options at the end of the seasons.” Within an hour it was plastered everywhere, and dominated the headlines. The next morning, Liverpool denied the quotes saying he would stay followed by Suarez stating they were not his words. Suddenly there is a small media frenzy about something which is a complete non-story simply because there are no talking points coming from domestic football. To top it off, The Daily Mail decided to post a story about how Suarez tackled one of the Liverpool Ladies squad with a “two-footed lunge.” Now this story came about midweek, when Liverpool actually trained with their ladies before the Southampton tie at the weekend. There was also a video that tried to support the claim. It actually showed Suarez pulling out of a challenge and the players laughing it off. Again, a non-story.

4. Pretending to Like Players You Otherwise Hate
It also irritates me how people can put disliking a player behind them for an International break, despite despising them for the rest of the year. Hypocrisy of the highest order. If I dislike a player, I dislike him. There is no changing my opinion on that based on the fact he is from the same country as me. I can’t stand Ashley Cole, John Terry or Rio Ferdinand and never would I support them as an England player. I couldn’t. I don’t like what they stand for, how they behave and to change my views on them because they were playing for England would just be plain wrong.

5. It’s Just So Boring!!

My final point is quite an open ended one. I just find International football boring, until you get to the actual tournament in the summer. The general play is quite dull – apart from the obvious Brazil, Spain, Germany etc. – and you often find your country playing against some no mark team that would struggle to reach the play-off places in League 2 of English football. There needs to be a revamp to the qualification systems to get rid of the whipping boys of the groups. The likes of San Marino, Malta, Faroe Islands, and Liechtenstein should have to go through a pre-qualification to cut down on the number of games that are played on awful surfaces despite being a foregone conclusion. Nobody really wants to see their country playing against any of these nations, other things will always be found to be done.

So there are my reasons for hating International breaks, what are yours?