Blog template Rock the Crossbar: Concacaf and other World Cup Places

Rock the Crossbar

Wednesday, June 28

Concacaf and other World Cup Places

Saw this great article on football365 - thoughts from non-Europeans? Anyone else feel Concacaf was crap and could do with losing a place , God forbid I have to watch Costa Rica or trinidad again in 4 years - combined record in 2006, 1 draw, 5 losses.

Result Just In: Old World 8, New World 0

After nearly three weeks of action, a pause for breath. We have seen 56 games over 19 days eliminate 24 of the sides who came to Germany full of hope that they would still be here. And it's time to return, conclusively, to a subject mentioned earlier on in the competition: Europe's continuing right to nearly half the places in the World Cup. Some major European names are out. Holland and Spain both gone in the last 16, the Czech Republic not even getting that far, undone by Ghana. But, none the less, the overwhelming message of this World Cup has been the strength of the game's traditional powerhouses. Of the teams who have been world champions, only Uruguay were missing from the original 32. And, with the defeat of Spain in Hanover on Tuesday night, the last of those sides made it through: Italy, (West) Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France are all in the last eight. The other two places have gone to European sides. Though perhaps the presence of Ukraine is a surprise, they had the good fortune to pass the Group H booby prize, a meeting with France, to the side that whacked them 4-0 in the tournament opener. This level of success for Portugal, semi-finalists and finalists in the past two European Championships, is overdue. All of which is bad news for the aspiring nations. The old world order in football remains the world order. Asia had a semi-finalist and a team in the last 16 in 2002. Now they have to rely on new friends Australia to claim anything from the knock-out stages. Last time, Mexico lost to the United States in the last 16. Now, their extra-time defeat to Argentina sees CONCACAF slip back badly, too, as the USA, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago were already out. Paraguay went out in the first round, Ecuador in the second: no South American team outside the big two has reached the last eight since Peru in 1978 (and they had the huge advantage of playing Ally McLeod's Scotland). Africa's hopes of a third quarter-finalist, to follow Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal four years ago, were slim after an unfavourable draw saw the best teams (Ghana, Ivory Coast) pitched against stronger opposition than the weaker sides (Angola, Togo, Tunisia). Ivory Coast succumbed, Ghana succeeded brilliantly against the Czech Republic and were brave against Brazil after a disastrous start, but were powerless in the end. The others, Angola especially, were not disgraced, but failed none the less. So, for the third tournament in a row, since the total teams reached 32 and Africa's allocation became five, just one of that quintet made it out of the group stage. Why does all this matter? Well, as I've written before, the allocation of places in the finals is a matter of constant debate. For this tournament, Oceania were initially granted an automatic spot, only for South American lobbying to see that decision reversed. Justice was done when Australia beat Uruguay, at least, but there's plenty more polticking to come over what happens now. For instance, with Australia now in Asia, what happens to Oceania? Will New Zealand, barring upset, inherit the play-off with the fifth team in South America? Or will Asia try to lay claim to it, to add to the existing play-off with a CONCACAF side? After all, with so many countries competing for just four automatic spots, the presence of the Aussies makes life harder. And the next World Cup is in South Africa, the first in the continent. One place will go to the hosts. Should the rest of Africa have just four places to compete for? It was such pressures that saw a 16-team event increased to 24 in 1982 then 32 in 1998. How do you square the obligation to give reasonable representation to each continent with the need to have the best teams? The easy target is always the largest allocation. Shave a team off Europe and they will still have the most teams by some distance. But the strong results of the UEFA sides demonstrates that such a move would weaken the competition. Africa had four first-round failures from five teams; Europe had four first-round failures from 14 teams. In fact, if any continent has earned an increase for 2010 it is Europe. That won't happen, even if Germany and France beat Argentina and Brazil to give the UEFA countries a clean sweep of the semi-finalists. But to cut Europe's allocation would be to damage the competition's credibility. The rest of the world had a decent chance and there should be no reward for failure.

7 Comments:

  • Good stuff, Simon. The notion of CONCACAF getting the extra half spot always seemed sketchy to me, and as I've said elsewhere, is entirely a function of Happy Jack Warner's politics and not the quality of the region. Over time, I think one could make a case for three teams from the region, but that's probably spotty - in 2002 Costa Rica showed well but didn't advance. I'd be happy, I suppose, splitting the difference and say COCNACAF should get 2.5. The trick is, of course, whom the .5 plays off against. Where Africa is concerned, I'm sure there are those who will argue that their rather pitiful continental showing this time around suggests they get less rather than more. Qualifying results there were, to say the least, weird in the first place. In the Old v. New World argument, this always seemed to me a tournament likely to recalibrate after Japorea. And for what it's worth, reassigning the Aussies complicates things considerably.

    By Blogger Glazer Shmazer, at 11:41 AM  

  • Could not read this full article but clearly they should lose a spot. Tom will argue that the Panamians are a tricky side and how England would lose at Azteca but enough's enough.

    In fairness to Concacaf though the US had a tough group compared to say the Ukraine or Switzerland (even accounting for obvious shortcomings) and Mexico faced Argentina, who could win it, at the first knockout stage.

    My view is that if the US and Mexico can not place above the city states, banana republics and islands in Concacaf they don't belong at the WC.

    By Blogger Chris P, at 12:13 PM  

  • FIFA is only concerned with one thing: the bottom line (profits). Their "betterment of the game" notions are a bunch of baloney. Television and merchandising revenues are paramount and the richest leagues/clubs dictate what happens. There is no way that Europe will lose an allocation for the WC. Impossible. I believe someone wrote a few months ago that Ireland and Scotland would qualify every time if they were in CONCACRAP or some other shoddy region. Absolutely true. If anything, UEFA should be given another full spot. As for Africa: it's all well and good to give five spots but none of the natives are buying Predators or replica kits, so we'll see how generous FIFA is to that region over time. They are mining the continent for talent, this time not into slavery but into riches, but I don't think - aside from some coaching clinics and player combines - that many clubs or federations are going to invest heavily there. Why should they? It's easy to get films of Africa Nations Cup matches, scout, then send some flunkie with a contract and a check in hand to sign a young talent. You want answers for this situation? Follow the money.

    By Blogger George Cuddy, at 7:59 PM  

  • Listen, though I think that CONCACAF's 4 possible participants is incredibly generous considering the dearth of quality national sides, I simply don't want to hear anything about nicking one of our places until something is done about the Asian conference.

    Time and bloody time again, those Prince's playthings, the Saudi's waltz through their qualifiers and show up at the Finals. And then they proceed to change their player squads to suit whichever Prince has to be appeased resulting in the least attractive or professional side in each tournament they enter. Hilariously funny to watch as their goalkeepers scrabble around helplessly, but simply not good enough.

    Then we have Iran who can manage to pull themselves together to beat the Great Satan, but nobody else. They're still featuring Ali Daei who has the mobility of Frankenstein's monster. And there was great debate that they left Kohadad Azizi at home--presumably because they couldn't ensure that he'd still be able to play and get to the early-bird dinner senior special. Mahadvikia used to be pretty special but he's past it and Karimi is big game bottler.

    The rest of the list is filled with the marvelous talent of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and presumably the UAE, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and the central Asian giants of Kyrgis Rep., Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, etc.

    Who needs two from this list? Surely the Tournament is richer for T&T beating Bahrain rather than vice versa.

    So kill-off the second guaranteed Asian spot before even beginning to talk about CONCACAF. And throw the 4th runner up in CONCACAF into a final qualifier for Africa. I missed Cameroon and Nigeria this time and seeing the Saudis again just pissed me off no end.

    By Blogger gooner71, at 11:15 AM  

  • With Australia moving into Asia thats unlikely to happen I think. I assume the Asians had to "accept" Australia in yeah? I don't think they would ever agree to this if there was even the slightest chance they will lose a place for 2010.

    I am all for more CONCACRAP v ASIA playoffs though. There were 8 teams in Germany from both conferences combined right? With only Mexico getting through? 6 seems about right. Unlike American sports, failure should not be rewarded.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 11:47 AM  

  • I did indeed claim that Ireland would qualify everytime if in Concacaf and that Scotland's FIFA world ranking would be higher. Not sure if Scotland would qualify every time though.

    Good points on Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    All that being said, don't think Concacaf should get 3 spots plus payoff. Go to 2.5 and consider yourself grateful.

    By Blogger Chris P, at 1:51 PM  

  • We should probably just include Brazil and Argentina in the Euro Championships and forget about the World Cup.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 2:50 PM  

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