Why the FIFA Expansion is a Mixed Bag

(Featured image curtesy of Logopedia)
I appreciate what FIFA wants to do but they made a mistake in the expansion. Here is a list of most of the changes:
Oceania is going to have an automatic bid to the World Cup. In the current system they do not have one.
One of the few errors that FIFA did commit was in the case of South America (CONMEBOL). FIFA defines the confederation as having only 10 nations. The two countries excluded are Guyana and Suriname and a territory of French Guyana who is not a part of FIFA. Right now CONMEBOL has only four direct berths into the World Cup. A fifth birth is possible as a result of the Intercontinental Playoff. In the expansion CONMEBOL will have 6 automatic berths to the World Cup.
CONCACAF encompasses North and Central America along with the Caribbean. In this case the Caribbean includes Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana. Right now the conference that governs over 50 nations gains only three automatic berths, with a fourth vying for a spot via the Intercontinental Playoff. In 2026 that number will double to six, with a seventh nation participating in the Intercontinental Bracket instead of the playoff we have now.
After all the confederations outside of Africa and Europe conclude their respective qualifying processes the Intercontinental Playoff stage begins. There are two more spots in the World Cup up for grabs. It currently works like this (all matchups are a home-home format determined by aggregate scoring with away goals being the tiebreaker):
  • The fourth-place team in CONCACAF plays against the fifth-place team in Asia.
  • The fifth-place team in CONMEBOL plays against the winner of Oceania’s bracket (New Zealand).

 

For the 2022 World Cup in Qatar:

 

  • The fifth-place team from CONMEBOL will play against CONCACAF’s fourth-place team.
  • The fifth-place team in Asia will face Oceania’s best.

 

The system is cyclical in order to prevent repetition.

The most popular of the suggested new formats would mirror the NFL Playoffs. The new format will have 5 seeds that do not change when the World Cup host changes continents. Every confederation, except UEFA, the European soccer conference, will send a representative. The host confederation will supply the sixth competitor. It’s comparable to the NFL Playoffs because the seeding of competing nations is by the most recent FIFA rankings at the time. The two highest seeds will have a bye while the bottom four will do battle in a single elimination format. Then after all this the winner will advance to the World Cup.

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