It sounded pretty good when the new qualifying format from CONCACAF was announced several months ago from their headquarters in New York City. Getting everyone involved from Canada all the way to Belize as the opening rounds started with eight groups of four, then four groups of four, to the final round being two groups of four. At the same time Mexico and the USA would never meet at all giving each other a break. Well unfortunately for Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer that idea has been completely shot down with a very loud bang.
After the FIFA Executive Committee had their meeting on Thursday, March 4 it was very clear that the amount of bids being offered to all six confederations will remain the same. UEFA with 13, Africa with 5, Oceania with their half spot, CONCACAF remains with 3 1/2 and, if you count host country Brazil, technically CONMEBOL gets 5 1/2. This decision didn’t sit well with executive committee member and CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer as he has made his opinions known. “Really not happy with the FIFA exco Meeting,” said Blazer “The last time we hosted, in 1986 (Mexico) and 1994 (USA), we didn’t get an extra slot. Why should South America? In 2010, Africa had six and only Ghana advanced (beyond the group stage). Why do they have five and we have 3 1/2?”
While I understand Chuck Blazer’s anger towards the ExCo for the selection of bids, it really shouldn’t be that surprising. The history of success within South America is well known as Brazil and Argentina are always going to be the two favorites going deep into the knockout stages of every World Cup. Ghana repeated their trip to the quarterfinals from Africa, which did give it a push. But at the same time it sounds like FIFA wants to keep things the way are, as they prepare to accept the qualification bids from all six confederations.
What does this mean for CONCACAF now that a decision has been made? It means it’s back to the drawing board as they have to scrap their original plans. The big mistake made by Blazer and Warner was that they automatically thought this plan was going to work and assumed that they were going to get four spots without even waiting for the ExCo meeting to take place. If this was ever in the thoughts of FIFA that CONCACAF was going to be getting four full spots, then it sounds like a fantasy. This also means that the deed by MLS to make room not to play during international dates for World Cup Qualifying has either gone for nought, or the re-working of the qualification could still have the USA playing towards this coming September, October and November. This can also mean that the Super Classico between Mexico and the USA will continue in the final round.
But to be fair to Chuck Blazer I really don’t blame him for being upset. I honestly thought that South America would lose a spot due to Brazil being the host country, but FIFA didn’t see it like that and now we will wait for Saturday, July 30 when the qualifying draw comes for the right to play in Brazil for the World Cup.