Iceland in, USA out of soccer’s World Cup
By Stewart Grant
One of the greatest spectacles in sport is soccer’s World Cup, which is held once every four years, with the next edition coming up next year in Russia.
On Monday, Iceland celebrated its first-ever qualification for the World Cup by finishing in first place in UEFA Group I with a record of 7 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw. This put the sparsely-populated nation ahead of other Group I nations Croatia, Ukraine, Turkey, Finland and Kosovo. This achievement follows Iceland’s remarkable march to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016. With a population of 334,000, Iceland is smaller than London, Ontario (388,000).
Conversely, the United States (population 323,100,000) failed to finish in the top 4 of its six-team CONCACAF Fifth Round qualification group that included Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago. With a record of 3-3-3 heading into Tuesday’s match against mathematically-eliminated Trinidad and Tobago (1 win, 8 losses), the Americans needed a draw to advance but instead were upset 2-1. This gravely disappointing result was particularly painful for Fox Broadcasting Company who paid $200 million to outbid EPSN for the right to broadcast the 2018 World Cup in the United States.
In case you are wondering about Canada, our national team narrowly missed qualifying for the Fifth Round of CONCACAF, losing out to Mexico and Honduras earlier this year in CONCACAF’s Fourth Round. Along the way to the fourth round Canada had defeated Dominica 6-0 in the second round and Belize in the third round.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup takes place across 11 Russian cities from June 14th to July 15th. Germany and Brazil are the current favorites to win the coveted title. Iceland is currently listed by most booking agencies as a longshot at around 200-1, but you never know…