Ahhh, the interlull.

A time where fans of competing club sides can band together, stand shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots, and support their national teams to glory!


I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point over the last few years, international football has become nothing more than just an intrusive nuisance to our lives.

It sits there like the mother-in-law you never invited around for dinner in the first place, only for her to then announce that she thinks you should let her move in. Rent-free. Yet as much as you want to tell her to go sling her hook, your partner pouts, looks you in the eyes and promises that ‘it won’t be that bad‘, and you let her stay.

That, in essence, is how national teams are viewed these days, as an annoyance to be put up with.

In today’s ADD society, going two weeks without a club game is an anathema. We greet the lack of a weekend fixture in the same way a dog sits at its owner’s feet during dinner, not being able to comprehend that it isn’t getting any food, despite there being a full plate above him.

We just sit there, and whimper.

The clubs themselves don’t care about international fixtures at all.

Players are routinely withdrawn from international squads with ‘injuries’ that were picked up in the game prior to an international break, only to be miraculously fit for the club’s first fixture immediately afterwards.

Fans are becoming increasingly blasé about these games as well. Want proof? Here’s a question for you, and don’t google the answer;

Who are England playing tomorrow night?


*watches video of Nicklas Bendtner scoring a hat-trick in midweek*

*re-evaluates life as a whole as a result of watching that video*

The answer is Lithuania. If you knew that, well done. I bet it’s because you’ve either got tickets and are going to the game, or you have England backed in an accumulator.

At no stage this week has any of the coverage of this game been about the game. It’s all been about who’s been withdrawn and whether Harry Kane might get a game. Nobody cares about who England are playing, because nobody cares about an international game whilst their club is in the middle of a title race/relegation battle/cup run. They have too much to worry about as it is, so why would they care about someone getting a debut or not?

So how do we fix this?

As much as we hate international fixtures during the season, we love international tournaments.

Those four weeks of non-stop football are a joy. Game after game after game, followed by excuse after excuse after excuse as to why you can’t find the remote and thus can’t change the channel, forcing you to watch game after game after game.

If we’re willing to pay attention to international games when there’s nothing else on, surely FIFA can figure out that the best ways to maximise TV revenues for their games develop international football as a whole, is to play these games at times when fans can devote their full attention to them.

At the moment, all fans do during international games is pray to whichever deity they worship for their club’s players not to get injured.

Amazingly, FIFA have already come up with the solution, but for all the wrong reasons. That solution is what international rugby teams have been doing for the last 100 years; get international teams together for three, four or five weeks at a time, at the same time every year, and let them work and grow as a unit.

For international football to reclaim significance and become a better product as a whole, then a solution has to suit both the clubs and the federations involved. And whilst it appears convoluted now, this solution gains its roots from a problem all of FIFA’s own making; Qatar 2022.

As of right now, the 2022 World Cup final will be played on the 18th of December, right slap bang in the middle of the domestic season.

What if December 18th wasn’t a time that clubs played games? What if was at the end of a five week period every season that international fixtures were always played in? Then the clubs would have no problem, as they wouldn’t have any games to hold players back in reserve for.

There are usually between 10-12 international fixtures per calendar year. Just have six of them during December and the rest during June. That leaves plenty of room for tournaments every second summer, plus the standard of football would improve due to players becoming more familiar with each other as time progresses. If they were really clever, they’d stagger the games so that only two were on every day, meaning that fans had more to watch and TV companies had more to buy.

But how does this help clubs?

Yes, losing players for five weeks at a time is hardly ideal, but losing them only once during the season would be far less problematic than the current set-up, and the need for the withdrawal of players just so they can get a few days of rest, would become non-existent.

Not all clubs would lose a dozen international players during these breaks either, so they would benefit from the extra rest. That would make domestic leagues that little bit more competitive, and thus more exciting, and thus more attractive for TV, which would mean higher revenues.

Win. Win. Win.

Fans would win too. Not only would there be more good football to watch, but in today’s economy, where going to watch games in person is becoming more and more expensive, having a few weeks before Christmas with no need to spend money on supporting your team would be quite a handy bonus in the long run.

But the best result from all this, would be the abolition of the these awful interlulls.

Make it happen, FIFA. Please?