Message to FIFA: Too Much CONCACAF in World Cup


Now in the home stretch towards the 2010 World Cup, football fans have a clearer picture of who will be attending South Africa next summer.

Surprises and excitement have already been a part of the World Cup qualifying process, as we have seen established teams like Portugal and Argentina pushed to the brink.

As the pool for next year’s championship is slowly completed, a few harsh truths about FIFA’s current means for distributing spots to the different confederations are being realized.

From a quality standpoint, it is obvious that an ocean of talent separates certain confederations from others.

The most telling statistic for this argument is quite simply the fact that no country outside of Europe or South America has ever won the FIFA World Cup.

In North America, a whopping 3.5 spots were doled out to CONCACAF for the current qualifying process, a process that enters its final round with only six contestants.

That’s right, in order to completely kill your chance of attending a World Cup in North America, you have to finish fifth…out of six.

At the most, CONCACAF should have two direct qualification spots.

Here’s how putrid the zone has been: During the process, there have been three individual leaders of the competition, with one of the former leaders, Honduras, now stationed in fourth place and facing a possible playoff.

Mexico, who at one point was fifth and almost completely out, is now only one point off the leader.

Costa Rica fired their manager less than a month ago when it found itself fourth. Today, it is at least assured a playoff against a CONMEBOL team.

Up until Saturday, El Salvador, with only eight points in eight games, was still mathematically vying for a place in the World Cup.

Since 1990, only one team has gone further than the Round of 16, the United States in 2002.

Four years ago, the “half spot” or playoff spot out of CONCACAF faced opposition from an Asian team to decide who got to attend Germany 2006.

This time around, competition will be steeper, as the fourth-placed team will face the playoff winner from CONMEBOL in South America.

As of now, that match is shaping up to be any combination of Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador, or Venezuela against Honduras or Costa Rica.

Which brings me to my next point: Would you rather see Argentina in the World Cup, or Honduras? Uruguay, or Costa Rica? Bahrein, New Zealand, or Portugal?

Even with the large amount of spots given to continents like Europe and South America, FIFA’s push for equality and distribution by making sure the other continents are well-represented is misguided.

If FIFA wants to keep CONMEBOL from having more than half their participants make the Cup, then it would be wise to keep a playoff spot.

FIFA should also be mindful of the way the UEFA qualifying groups are handled, and award a certain amount of spots to specific groups.

Group One has Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden. Group Two has Switzerland, Israel, and Greece.

Get the picture?

The World Cup should be about pitting the best against the best on the grandest scale of all.

Economically, having the best possible teams duke it out over a month every four years is also very attractive. What’s the attendance going to be in a North Korea-Costa Rica game?

Outside of those two countries, what do you think the ratings are going to be for a match like that?

Now imagine a Portugal-Argentina, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi blazing about the pitch. Aguero and Pepe duking it out.

The removal of spots from certain confederations like CONCACAF and the AFC would also promote local football programs to better themselves, considering that there would be less to go around.

If anything, a move like this would make the game better.

It’s time to sacrifice the less talented in favor of a greater spectacle.

In FIFA’s words, it would be for the good of the game.