A few months ago, it was announced that there may be a 2016 Copa America held in the US to celebrate the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL. This has made me again think about a possible move to unite North, Central, and South American soccer. This would be a huge move and the positives would highly outweigh the negatives for most of the parties involved. Here are the some of the reasons why this should happen.
1. No More CONCACAF "Cupcakes" at the World Cup - Since 1994, the only CONCACAF nations to make it out of the group stage at the World Cup are USA and Mexico. A merger would all but eliminate those smaller island nations that are far inferior to the powerful countries that are at the World Cup. If merged, the confederation could receive 8 automatic bids with another possible in a playoff with Asia. So most likely, we would see the qualified nations being something like this: USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Uraguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Ecuador. This is much better than seeing Honduras, Costa Rica, or Trinadad and Tobago out there representing the continent.
2. Better Competition for the USA and Mexico - It's pretty evident that the USA and Mexico are far and away top dogs in CONCACAF. Having more consistent competition from South American teams could go a long way for both nations (the USA in particular) to become much better teams.
3. A "Real" Copa America - Having a quadrennial tournament that would run in the even year between World Cups similar to the Euro's would be a huge draw to fans that don't get to see thier country play in a big tournament match outside of the World Cup. Since predicting the finalists for the Gold Cup has become about as difficult as adding 2+2, and it gets next to no media exposure, it would be great to have a high quality tournament that the fans could enjoy outside of the World Cup.
So now your wondering how this would work when it comes to World Cup Qualifying. Here's how I have it playing out.
There would be 50 teams total that would enter at the start of qualifying (lucky it's a nice round number). First, the bottom 25 teams in the FIFA rankings would be placed in 5 groups of 5. They would each play a home-away series with every team in thier group. Once that round is over, the top two teams in each group would advance to the next round of qualifying with the rest of the teams on the confederation. In this round, the remaining 35 nations would be placed in 5 groups of 7. Again, a home-away series would be played with every team in the group. At the conclusion of the round, the 5 group winners would qualify outright for the World Cup. The 5 group runners-up would be placed in a single group and play one game against each team in the group. The top three teams in the group would also qualify for the World Cup. The fourth placed team in the group would play in the home-away playoff with Asia to determine the final team to qualify.
So the number of qualifiers for each confederation would be as follows:
UEFA - 13
Africa - 5
Asia - 4 or 5
Oceania - 1 (I think every confederation should be represented)
Americas - 8 or 9
Host - 1
So what does everyone think? Comments Please!!
A merger would all but eliminate those smaller island nations that are far inferior to the powerful countries that are at the World Cup.Therein lies the sticking point. Those smaller island nations as a voting bloc have more power than you might think (see the bin Hammam scandal - no reason to waste money on bribes if they're not going to make any difference in the end - and the fact that the CONCACAF president tends to be from the region; they're minnows, but have some weight when voting as a group). If they think they'll be marginalized they'll likely kill any deal themselves (on the other hand, they're obviously susceptable to bribes and may decide potential TV dollars are worth sacrificing any shot of ever seeing a World Cup). Still, I have a feeling a US/Mexico defection is more likely than an actual merged confederation, though I wouldn't bet money on either happening anytime soon.
Plus, I'm a selfish fan who likes seeing the US in the World Cup and have a very strong feeling they'd be missing a few in a merged confederation. We're not exactly breezing our way through CONCACAF qualifying with no problems. Miss too many and the slow but steady growth of the sport in the US might start fading as more casual fans drop off, which would nullify any benifits stronger competition could provide.I actually agree with you on this point. The US qualification would be far from guaranteed in this situation, and I would hate to see them miss out on a World Cup. However, If I were to rank the teams in the merged confederation, I would probably place the US somewhere in the 4-6 spots. I would put them behind Brazil, Argentina and Uruaguy for sure, with Mexico, Paraguay and the US fighting for the 4th spot. So I still think they would qualify for the World Cup just about every year.
- It's pretty evident that the USA and Mexico are far and away top dogs in CONCACAF.HA HA... 1 win in 6 games for both of them in the current hex...ha ha ha