Knockout tournaments are enjoyed by fans all over the world because of the uncertainty and excitement but there some aspects of it which makes it unfair for some teams. It is perfect for the neutrals but not for the ones who support a team. There are a few tournaments where there are two stages. 1st is the group stage; 2nd is the knockout stage. The knockout stage is like a sudden death where the losing team goes out of the tournament irrespective of their previous performances. The knockout phase generally starts with sixteen teams for most football competitions.
knockout phases are not the most accurate way to discover the winner of competition especially for a major tournament like the FIFA World Cup, Euros and Champions League. Teams that have performed well in group stages could be out of the tournament without any chance to come back after just one bad performance. The knockout ties could prove to be unfair for some teams. Strong teams may come up against each other whereas the weaker teams could cruise through to the latter stages of the tournament based on luck. It is also possible that two strong teams face each other whereas another strong team gets an easier opposition. Weaker can enter the final rounds with ease whereas a deserving one could get out in the first round.
We have seen many tournaments where the best team has not won the cup because of either one bad performance or an unlucky draw. In Euro 2020, we have seen one of the biggest upsets where the world champions France have been knockout out by Switzerland. France remained unbeaten and topped the toughest group of the tournament. On the other hand, Switzerland finished 3rd in their group with only one win in the group stage. France is out after just one defeat, that too on penalties which is a bit unfair on them as they were the better team. The Netherlands was also knocked out by the Czech Republic 2-0 in the round of 16. Netherland won all of their matches in the group stage while the Czech Republic lost one game but still managed to go through after just a win against ten men Netherlands.
The tactics used by some of the teams in the knockout stages are pragmatic and not easy on the eye. Many teams park the bus and play in their defensive shell. Teams are set up not to concede a goal and try to take the game to penalties where the chances of winning are 50-50. This approach makes the game boring since only one team is attacking repeatedly with all the opposition players behind the ball to defend. It also results in more exciting and explosive attacking players benched for the defensive ones.
The game between Spain and Russia in the 2018 world cup is a relevant example of this approach. Spain was dominant throughout the game with 79% possession and 24 shots taken with 9 on target while Russia only had one shot on target. However, the game ended 1-1 and Russia won it 4-3 on penalties. Spain deserved to win the tie based on the performance and statistics still Russia ended up winning it.
LACK OF INTEREST FROM FANS
Many fans stop watching the tournament or else their interest cools down when their team is knocked out. It also makes fans angry seeing the remaining teams still playing the tournament, reminding them that theirs is out. This results in a decrease in television viewership cause by the end, only fans of two teams are still engaged in the competition. Many fans who travel to watch the games also return to their home countries after their team’s exit from the tournament.
INJURY AND FATIGUE
These tournaments are completed in a short period and many players have already played 40-50 games for their clubs before that. So, the fitness of players has to be kept in mind. The teams which reach the final rounds have players who are very tired by then and some also pick up injuries. When the game goes into extra time the player’s fitness levels are already low, also the risk of them getting injured is very high.
Players also play with a fear of elimination which is not beneficial for their health and sports performance