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CONCACAF denied fourth World Cup berth, FIFA adds WC playoff draw

Despite reports suggesting that CONCACAF was closing in on receiving a fourth guaranteed berth in the 2014 World Cup, it appears that FIFA will not make any changes to the amount of spots allocated to each confederation.

CONCACAF will still have its three automatic berths, and a fourth team can qualify through a playoff. Although it previously was predetermined against which confederation that fourth team would play, that has been changed. FIFA plans to institute a playoff draw for the final qualifiers between nations from CONCACAF, South America, Asia and Oceania.

The playoff draw is a major victory for CONCACAF because it means the fourth-place CONCACAF team won't necessarily have to play a South American opponent. Costa Rica lost to eventual World Cup Fourth Place finisher Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup qualifying playoff.

UEFA, which remains set at 13 berths, and Africa, which still has five, would not be included in that draw, because they have no partial qualifiers.

What do you think about this? Disappointed CONCACAF won't get another automatic spot? Do you like the idea of the playoff draw?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. What does CONCACAF have to do to get the fourth spot? Bribe Sepp Bladder? Africa had 6 teams this last time, only one went past the first round. Four years ago, 5 teams, one forward. 2002, only one out of five. 1998, only 1. Asia four years ago NONE got past the first round. Same for 1998. Yet they get four with a chance for a fifth (Trinidad ripped that away from them for the 2006 cup), CONCACAF gets to suck eggs. Something is rotten in Zurich.

  2. You’re comparing Ivory Coast to “not USA/MEX” in the CONCACAF? That’s not even close. Same with Nigeria, and even Egypt (one goal away means they don’t matter at all?). Just because they don’t show well at the WC proper because of bad draws, wrt IVC, or bad luck or whatever doesn’t mean you should discount all of the other matches those teams participate in.

    I’m not ever in the business of defending FIFA, but they’re absolutely right here. The depth doesn’t compare, regardless of the results.

  3. That the lesser sides of CONCACAF do just as poorly is exactly my point. There seems to be some idea that Africa does great at the WC when it does just as bad (38% of teams coming in last in the group) or worse (fewer teams advancing out of group stage) than CONCACAF. It may be fair for CONCACAF to have 3.5 WC slots; but if that’s true then Africa’s 5 slots are too many.

  4. Yeah I have a feeling Oceania will magically draw South America each year as no one outside of NZ really matters in that conference.

  5. an entire article? It’s ridiculously short. If you have the time to type out a stupid question, you have enough time to read and find they answer yourself.

  6. You can say the same thing for any team in CONCACAF except for the US and Mexico though. Our 3rd place team comes in last about 40% of the time too, if not more.

    CAF has 10 teams in the top 55 FIFA rankings, CONCACAF has 2. It could be argued either way, but I think 3.5 spots for the world cup is completely fair, especially when now that .5 spot could potentially be a playoff against someone like New Zealand or Soloman Islands or Iran or Uzbekistan.

  7. Hi,

    Let me post a part of the story about this issue that appeared in the Globe and Mail…note the proposed change to the proposed new qualifying system.

    FIFA’s decision Thursday caused CONCACAF to say it will reconsider a proposed change to qualifying that would have prevented regional powerhouses United States and Mexico from meeting.

    Chuck Blazer, the American on FIFA’s executive committee and CONCACAF’s No. 2 official, said there would not be enough available dates on the FIFA calendar for the formula CONCACAF had proposed, which would have had two groups of four in a final round of qualifying. For the past four World Cups, CONCACAF had a six-nation group in the finals.

  8. Yep, I read the article and it says that the playoff pairings will be determined this July. So it won’t be based on rankings. I just hope that FIFA makes it so that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL don’t play.

  9. Africa gets one team past the group stage every single World Cup. That’s it. One. Since 1994, that’s 5 of 24 (21%) for Africa and 9 of 15 (60%) for CONCACAF.

    So where are these better quality African teams? I’ll give you Ghana. Otherwise:

    Nigeria was last in its group in 2010, didn’t qualify in 2006, and last in its group in 2002.

    Cameroon was last in its group in 2010, didn’t qualify in 2006, and third in its group in 2002.

    Ivory Coast has never made it past the group stage.

    Egypt hasn’t made the World Cup in 20 years. They are continually beaten in qualifying by teams that not only don’t advance past WC group stage but about 40% of the time come in dead last in the group.

    To put it another way, anybody can come in last. Costa Rica, T&T, El Salvador, Honduras, and the rest of CONCACAF deserve the same chance to come in last that Africa has received. Africa’s performance does not warrant more spots than CONCACAF.


    2010: 2 of 3 (USA and Mex)

    2006: 1 of 4 (Mex)

    2002: 2 of 3 (USA and Mex)

    1998: 1 of 3 (Mex)

    1994: 2 of 2 (USA and Mex)

    (and this was when USA hosted)

    Extra CONCACAF team will flame out in the first round as long as its not USA or Mexico. Youre honestly telling me that you would exclude Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast or Egypt in order to make way for Costa Rica, T&T, El Salvador or Honduras?

    Africa has a higher amount of better quality teams than we do. It sucks but its fair.

  11. TV-broadcasting (in english too) is more widespread for the Euro championships than the Copa Libertadores. In that sense it is literally “more watchable”.

  12. If they went to UEFA or CONMEBOL, I agree with you. But that doesn’t seem to be the discussion. Over the last 5 World Cups, Africa has moved 5 of 24 teams past the group stage, and never more than 1 team in any World Cup. So why do they get 5 spots? They’ve proven they don’t deserve it.

    Maybe Costa Rica and El Salvador would bomb out but they deserve the same chance to do so that Africa continues to get. Since the WC went to 32 teams in ’98 (4 cups), 8 of Africa’s 21 entries (38%) came in dead last in the group. For CONCACAF, 5 of 13 (38%) came in dead last.

    So if we’re dead last exactly the same amount as they are and we advance more clubs past the group stage, then why do they get 40% more spots than us?

  13. only 1 african team makes it out if stage groups in all world cups. no wonder uefa and conmeballs win the world cups because they get more spots and they have more probabilities to advance further. while we have 3.5. its basic commen scence you have 13 uefa marbles in a bag and 3 concacaf marbles whats the probabilitie of picking a concacaf marble?

  14. Mexico does very well vs Brazil, Chile and Uruguay (exception SA 2010). I think those games would be more exciting than the actual WC matches!

  15. I think the Europeans think of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL as one big “Confederation of the Americas” with two conferences. So in that sense their prior reasoning was “Hey, they already have the 2nd most.”

  16. To be fair, I don’t think 3 CONCACAF teams have ever progressed out of the group stage of the world cup. So adding a fourth team from CONCACAF would only weaken the tournament even more.

    I do agree that Africa and Asia have one too many spots. Europe deserves those two spots. But CONCACAF doesn’t need another spot. Our third team is still so bad that they never progress into the knockout rounds.

  17. Not really, except to say that the 4th, 5th, and 6th African teams have sucked, which is exactly what would happen to the 4th, 5th, and 6th CONCACAF teams.

    2010- Ghana QF, Mexico/US R16
    2006- Ghana R16, Mexico R16
    2002- Senegal QF, USA QF, Mexico R16
    1998- Nigeria R16, Mexico R16
    1994- Nigeria R16, USA R16

    They have one more QF (and our only QF is because we played each other in the R16), we have 2 more R16s, and Ghana has booted us twice.

    Not really sure how those facts back up that as a whole we have done a whole lot better. They probably have a team or two too many that keep bombing out, but again that is the same thing that would probably happen to Costa Rica, El Salvador, or whoever else would be in a WC for this region. And certainly shows that we deserve no more spots. You want to give the spots to Europe or South America? Alright.

  18. I would think that a draw means, an actual random draw.

    If it was just based on rankings, I think that would have been more clearly spelled out.

  19. Is that a rhetorical question? The US has never really had an “easy” time qualifying for the WC and, if you all remember correctly, Mexico came within one loss (at Canada in a game the Canadians were playing for nothing and outplayed Mex and should have won) of NOT even making the the group stages of CONCACAF qualifying for last years WC.

  20. No his point was taking spots away from the rest of the world dilutes the world cup aspect of the tournament. We don’t really need more UEFA teams in the WC. I mean were already at a point were Slovenia gets in adding more spots isn’t needed they should just rethink how their qualifiers work so teams like Ireland aren’t left out.

  21. Great news on the playoff draw piece of this, for the USA (though hopefully, we’ll never have to benefit from it) and any CONCACAF team. Much more fair than the automatic CONCACAF/CONMEBOL matching.

  22. Assuming the new intercontinental playoff draw is based on FIFA ranking, this sounds like a decent chance for CONCACAF to get four teams to the World Cup. Here are the FIFA rankings as of October 2009 for the four teams that participated in the last playoff; Uruguay-19th, Costa Rica-44th, New Zealand-77th, and Bahrain-61st. That would mean Uruguay would play New Zealand and Costa Rica would play Bahrain.

  23. I’m happy about it, but I’m an AFC guy. Those saying that CONCACAF has more quality than AFC, I don’t think it’s that clear cut, below the top 4 I think the AFC is better. USA is pretty much walked through to the tournament every four years anyway so why do you guys care?

    You think CONCACAF get screwed? What about OFC, they gave them an extra half spot and then later took it away.

    Numbers a fine the way they are and the playoff draw format is very kind to CONCACAF, does run for some problems in logistics. Anyone remember Uruguay trying to change the kick-off time of their match against Australia in 05 trying to make the Aussies miss their flight. The current playoff system made sense logistically, and let’s face it, if you can’t beat the 5th placed South American side, do you really deserve to be there?

  24. The US should feel that we could qualify for the WC, even if CONCACAF only had 3 spots, so I really don’t care about the 0.5.

    If we need the playoff to get into the WC, then we have bigger problems than FIFA.

  25. Actually, I think you are all missing the key thing here. Its the money. This creates one more opportunity for FIFA to accept bribes to determine the outcome of the “draw”. OK, I’m just a bit cynical about FIFA and anything they do. Who isn’t?

  26. In all honesty, it sounds great on paper, but I wouldn’t want us to be in that situation. Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay all would be locks, which leaves the US, Mexico, Columbia (up and coming), Honduras, and Ecuador to realistically vie for the remaining 2/3 spots. My guess is that sooner or later, we wouldn’t qualify.

  27. I think the consensus is that each confederation deserves the following number of spots:

    UEFA 13
    CONMEBOL 4.5
    CAF 4
    CONCACAF 3.5
    AFC 4
    OFC .5
    Host 1

    That’s only 30.5 spots, and it’s difficult to say who deserves the last 1.5. UEFA certainly deserves all 13 of its spots but people already think the tournament is too Euro-centric. If CONMEBOL gets any more than 5 spots, they could potentially qualify 60% of their members, which is way too high. I think we all agree that CAF no longer deserves 5 qualifiers. CONCACAF did well enough in South Africa to maintain its number, but I see no evidence that it deserves a full 4 spots. AFC, on merit, only deserves 4 spots, and obviously OFC should get the absolute (non-zero) minimum number of spots.

    Personally, I’d give another 0.5 spots to CONMEBOL, CAF, and AFC – which would basically give South America 5 full spots and make Africa, North America, Asia, and Oceania play-off for the last 2 spots.

  28. The facts are that CONCACAF has performed better than Africa in the past however many WCs. If Africa was reduced to 3.5 spots like we have with their other spots given to CONMEBOL/UEFA, then fine. But if CONMEBOL/UEFA aren’t getting those spots then we deserve them more than Africa.

  29. No, they don’t. Africa had 53 countries compete (52+host) in 2010 qualifying, CONCACAF had 35. That’s not exactly “3 to 4 times as many”.

    Africa had 1 of its 53 make it to the knockout stages.


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