Both the Asian and African confederations feel that they deserve more spots in the World Cup. Whilst results at past World Cups and Confederations Cups might not justify such self-entitlement – especially when claiming that Europe has too many spots, there can be no doubt that 54 African teams chasing just five World Cup spots is sheer brutality.
Many notable figures in the world of football from around the globe have noted that Africa deserves more World Cup spots. The Asian confederation however, do not seem to have too many supporters from outside their own continent.
THE 36 TEAM FORMAT
The tournament would be comprised of nine groups of four. By having nine groups, there would be a stronger emphasis on finishing top, especially being one of the top eight first-place finishes to be seeded for the last 16. The ninth-best group winner would not be seeded for the last 16.
The emphasis on finishing top would be enhanced even further with only seven runner-ups making the last 16. The idea of a team being content in battling for second-place when being paired with Spain or Brazil would go out the window. Teams would be forced to chase
top-spot and not battle it out with three other teams for second-place.
The concept would result in all games across all groups having more meaning and importance with teams possibly being reliant on results and favours in the other groups. This creates interest. This is what international football is all about, every game having a meaning.
In the last 16, the best eight group winners would face the ninth-best group winner and the seven-best runner-ups in the last 16. The current format takes place thereafter.
THE FOUR EXTRA WORLD CUP SPOTS
1. EUROPE – One spot
With Denmark finishing second in their qualifying group and not obtaining play-off spot, this signifies the cold and uncompromising world of World Cup qualifying from the UEFA confederation where one of the nine runner-ups do not get a play-off spot.
By allowing the best runner-up to qualify for the World Cup automatically (which in this case would have been Greece), the other eight group runner-ups would contest four play-off matches for four World Cup spots. Perhaps we might have seen Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Brazil had this format been in play.
2. AFRICA – One spot
The hardest continent to qualify from is Africa, with only five spots on offer. This is the continent where many African Nations Cup winners don’t make a World Cup, such is the competitiveness of qualification. The World Cup was always going to lose a top team
when Egypt where pitted against Ghana.
But was it fair for Egypt to face Ghana? Egypt won all six of their group games. Mexico only won two of their group games in the CONCACAF hexagonal, finished fourth out of six teams – after a favour from the United States - and then got to play the part-timers of New
This is a big difference to facing players who play their club football for the likes of Juventus, AC Milan, Schalke, Chelsea, Udinese and Marseille. Even Senegal would have surely been happier to face New Zealand or Jordan than the Ivory Coast.
The depth of the continent was on display this past week as South Africa - who didn't even make the African play-offs - beat Spain in a game where the South Africans hardly ever 'parked the bus' against the current World and European champions.
Africa need another World Cup spot, the World Cup needs Africa to have another spot.
3. INTERCONTINENTAL PLAY-OFF: Africa versus Asia – One spot
Both confederations could work out which teams would qualify for this play-off, although on the current format, perhaps Jordan (Asia’s fifth best-placed team) would have played in this play-off with Uzbekistan (the sixth best-placed side) facing the daunting task of playing Uruguay in the
other intercontinental play-off.
4. CAF vs AFC vs CONCACAF vs CONMEBOL vs OCEANIA - One spot
A fourth spot being available to any confederation apart from Europe, based on past performances at the World Cup and Confederations Cup. Employing a co-efficient system to grade continental performances at every intercontinental event, continents would be able to
battle each other for an extra qualifying birth.
This format would result in every game in every group at every tournament being relevant in some capacity. Even the dead-rubber game at the past Confederations Cup between Mexico and Japan would have had relevance for co-efficient points for both CONCACAF and AFC
Meaningless games at World Cups and Confederations Cups would be no more as all games would have implications for each continent’s future allotment of World Cup places.
Perhaps this would result in more scenes of an entire continent supporting a team, like the whole of Africa did in 2010, when Ghana carried the hopes and dreams of a continent on their
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