More speculation Concacaf to change World Cup qualifying

Concacaf wants to change its qualification format for the 2014 World Cup. This is not news. We wrote about it. Other blogs wrote about it. Even the Concacaf website wrote about it.

Still, this being a blog about Canadian soccer and all things that concern it, I’m highlighting this Honduran article reporting that the secretary general of the Mexican soccer federation, Decio de María, confirmed Monday that Concacaf will change its qualifying format.

In brief: 32 teams go into eight groups of four; the top two from each group then go into four groups of four; the top two then go into two groups of four; the two group winners receive an automatic ticket to the 2014 World Cup; the two second place teams go to a playoff for an automatic third berth; the loser goes into another last-gasp playoff against a country from another federation.

What I find interesting are the opinions expressed in the article’s comment section. There is an almost uniform view that because Concacaf is run by Mexico and the U.S., any changes to its qualifying format would primarily benefit those two countries at the expense of everyone else. They just want to make it so they are guaranteed to qualify. It will dilute the playing field and make it so that the other countries in the region will do even worse in the World Cup… to paraphrase some of the comments.

I’ve said previously this new format would be fantastic for Canada because it could mean up to 18 meaningful games over a roughly two-year qualifying period. And I certainly don’t buy the U.S.-Mexico conspiracy argument either. In the second round of the 2010 qualifying cycle Mexico got lumped into a group with Jamaica, Honduras and Canada. They played like shit and scraped through in second place.

I’m not a statistician, but somehow it seems that the probability of having some bad luck and ending up second in a group of four teams is much higher than having some bad luck and ending up fourth place or lower in the “Hex,” as the current final qualifying group of six Concacaf countries is called.

(Top three teams qualify for the World Cup, the fourth goes to a playoff and the bottom two miss out.)

In the proposed qualifying format proposed, a misstep here, a misstep there and all of a sudden Mexico or the U.S.’s World Cup participation hangs on a two-match playoff. That doesn’t sound beneficial at all.


2 Responses to “More speculation Concacaf to change World Cup qualifying”

  1. As has been said many times before, the change would be made to give more meaningful (i.e. WCQ) games to the tiny minnows (e.g. Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama)… reason being, doing so makes them even more grateful to Jack Warner, and more likely to vote in a block (as they always do anyway) to support whatever corrupt endeavour he embarks upon at FIFA (i.e. supporting Sepp Blatter’s re-election).

    I’m all for a good conspiracy theory, and favouring the U.S. and Mexico at the Gold Cup makes perfect sense (since that tournament is CONCACAF’s biggest money-maker), but for World Cup qualifying, it’s about the minnows.

  2. I have to say, in the “proposed qualifying format proposed,” I can’t see how any other countries aside from Mexico and the US could vote against it (unless they get bribed, which in CONCACAF is a distinct possibility).

    It looks as though Canada is the country that would benefit the most out of this, as we’d end up with at least double the current games against CONCACAF opponents, playing in shite stadia, which is only a good thing for prepping the boys for future campaigns. I hope something like this is done for the younger age groups as well. Our boys need to get experience like this starting at U17/18 so that by the time they get to the senior side, they’ve already faced hostile environments and can keep composed.

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