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The controversy about the WFC Qualifiers – are they good for promoting floorball?

The World Floorball Championships 2018 European Qualifiers have been played this weekend, and it included several big results from the top nations against the lower ranked. Sweden took down France with a historical 43-1 win, Finland vs Liechtenstein ended up 24-0, and the Swiss defeated Hungary 21-0. These games have started a discussion on social media about whether they are good or bad for our sport, and the opinions are divided. Should these dominant countries participate in the qualifiers, or does it just harm the reputation of the sport?

Floorball, the young and speedy sport that’s been growing at an impressive pace since its inception in 1979 when the first floorball club was founded, is seeking to get a greater international recognition and a spot in the Olympics. But in order for that to happen, the sport has to develop both in the more established countries like Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Czech Republic (the Top 4), but perhaps even more importantly, in the rest of the world as well.

In all of the 22 World Championships that have been held, Switzerland has won once, Finland 5 times, and Sweden 16. To get the recognition we want, there have to be more countries fighting for the gold than just Sweden and Finland, which has been the case except for in 2005. But how do we make that happen?

The answer is, of course, to get more people to play. The simple reason why the Swedes are dominant is that they have about 125 000 registered floorball players. Finland is second with roughly 50% of that. Together they account for more than half of the world’s registered floorball players. So the actual question is how do we get more people to play in these lesser countries? Here’s where the opinions are divided, at least it comes to the European WFC Qualifiers and the participation of the Top 4.

To summarize this weekend for the top countries: Sweden won their group with a 94-8 goal difference, Finland won as well with 111-3, and the Swiss 87-13 (Czech Republic will host the WFC, so they didn’t participate). These numbers clearly speak for themselves; the gap between the Top 4 and the rest is huge, and there’s no debate that these countries were guaranteed to qualify. So what’s the point of them participating?

Some say that it’s good because then the less developed countries get to experience world class floorball. It could act not only as a really good lesson to play against someone like Kim Nilsson, but also be really inspirational. Even though the result ends up being 1-43, it was still a positive experience that they’ll bring back to their countries.

The other side of the argument is that these numbers are a really bad promotion for the sport. If we’re trying to promote the sport and get a good repetition internationally, then what’s the point of having these complete runovers that just demonstrates the gap between the countries. And is there really that much someone can learn from losing 1-43?

Getting floorball to the Olympics is something all floorball players around the world would appreciate. But is the participation of the Top 4 in the qualifiers something that will help us get there or is it just harmful? What are your thoughts?

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