San Marino are an embarrassment, claims Nottingham Forest legend

Kenny Burns believes that San Marino should have to pre-qualify to take part in the European Champions qualification stages.

San Marino continued their miserable run of form with a 5-0 loss to England on Thursday, once again failing to win a competitive fixture - remaining bottom of the FIFA rankings.

Officially the worst football team in the world, the microstate located in Italy set a European record when they went over 20 games without scoring a goal between 2008 and 2012, and the only reason the part-time squad take part in qualification fixtures is due to the national pride felt in representing their country.

However, many people think this is not enough, with a certain level of ability required to deserve a place in competitive action, and one man who has given this view is former Nottingham Forest star Kenny Burns. The 20-capped Scotland international was part of the Forest side who won the Football League First Division in 1978, before winning successive European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Speaking to the Nottingham Post, 61-year-old Burns said: “There really isn't a place for the likes of San Marino in international football.

“Ilkeston would easily beat them so why are a bunch of waiters turning out in front of a crowd at Wembley that's probably bigger than their population to square off against players who are on thousands of pounds a week like your Wayne Rooneys or Joe Harts?

“It's nothing but an embarrassment!

“There is no place for teams that see it as a moral victory when they only lose 5-0 – as San Marino did against England – and who always get thumped, like we saw with the Republic of Ireland hammering new boys Gibraltar 7-0 on Saturday.

“It makes for shocking watching, whether you're at the ground or sitting in front of your TVs, with 11 defenders hoping they don't get too much of a hammering.”

Burns has the opinion that football should follow the procedure used in international cricket, with weaker nations required to pre-qualify to take part in the tougher qualification stages.

He added: “For me, these smaller nations should be made to qualify for the group stages – a bit like they do in cricket – and that way you would only get the best ones qualifying for the right to play big names like England, Germany or Spain.”

Whilst many may agree with Burns’s view, it represents a short-sighted approach to international football, where national pride is valued as highly as results. San Marino may go years before finally clinching a competitive victory, but that will not stop the nations most talented players desiring to turn out for their team, with yearly fixtures against the England’s, Spain’s and Germany’s of the world guaranteed in qualification.

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