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Posted on: January 13, 2013 10:49 pm

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 numberTongue out). 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!!   

Category: Soccer

Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2013 1:58 am


I think the concept isn't a bad one but I don't see it happening. I wouldn't mind replacing the Gold Cup with a true Copa America once every 4 years (but still have the Gold Cup and winner qualify for the Confederations Cup) like we might have in 2016 in the USA. I would like to see CONCACAF get a 4th quaranteed bid for the World Cup, but that will only come with improved results and right now, as you pointed out, aside from the USA and Mexico, CONCACAF isn't getting them.

As far as the qualification process you outlined, it's too long and there are too many games. The idea of early round qualifying is to make it as simple and cheap as possible. You can't have tiny Carribean federations playing an 8 game home/away slate of games followed by a second round of 12 games, its too expensive for them. You'd have to have the bottom 20 pair off in an aggregate series, eliminate 10 teams, then have those 10 winners play teams ranked 30-39, another aggregate series, eliminate 10 more leaving you with 30. Then maybe you can have 6 seeded groups of 5, winners advance to WC with the 2/3 best 2nd place teams or an additional round with two best teams in each group (12 total), maybe 2 groups of 6, top 3 advance, 4th place teams into a playoff for 7 WC spots.
Even with that process, there's less of a guarantee for USA/Mexico to qualify so they'd be against any merger automatically. CONEMBOL qualifying is notoriously difficult and also fair (10 teams, 18 game round robin home/away over two years) and the 4th/5th place teams change constantly. The goal for the USA and Mexico is to continue to dominate qualifying and actually produce results in the World Cup. CONCACAF is getting better as a whole, teams like Canada, Jamaica and Panama getting better all the time. I don't think CONCACAF's 3rd team is a cupcake, but their aspirations are to get to the World Cup. It's different for the USA and Mexico.

Solid post however, keep it up. 

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