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FIFA reveal new qualification spots and replacement playoff tournament (to be ratified)

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AFC (Asia) – 8 spots (+3.5 spots more than previous)
Caf (Africa) – 9 (+4)
Concacaf (North and Central America) – 6 (+2.5, co-hosts Can/US/Mex automatically qualify)
Conmebol (South America) – 6 (+ 1.5)
OFC (Oceania) – 1 (+ 0.5)
Uefa (Europe) – 16 (+3)

A tournament in the year before will decide the remaining 2 spots, replacing the Confederations Cup.

Spoiler

(Bit creeped out because I suggested almost exactly this a few days ago, and thought I was being really clever. My original idea is better, obviously.)

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jun/13/three-hosts-48-teams-how-the-2026-world-cup-will-work-united

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New Zealand basically gets a free pass there now. Discussion to be had about merging OFC and AFC, but that's for another time.

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2 minutes ago, Divinity said:

New Zealand basically gets a free pass there now.

Wouldn't count on it. They only managed to beat PNG on pens at the ONC in 2016, and have drawn against some of the other OFC Nations in the WC Qualifying. 

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1 minute ago, Lucas Weatherby said:

Wouldn't count on it. They only managed to beat PNG on pens at the ONC in 2016, and have drawn against some of the other OFC Nations in the WC Qualifying. 

We (Australia) used to get poor results with third string sides drawn locally too.

Edited by Divinity

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4 hours ago, Gorando said:

LOL Asia 8 spots, they have only 2-3 decent teams.

Traditionally 5, but Saudi Arabia have a poor World Cup record and obviously form changes. I guess now's their chance to get wins in future if not at this World Cup.

Uzbekistan are the best of the rest, always never quite make it. I guess they can now.

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Could do with sliding qualification spots that change after each competition depending on how well a continent's teams did. Reward Asian / African / North American teams when their countries do well but just don't give them places for the sake of it. Having said that theres far too many European / South American teams in the new format as it is. Just highlights how bloated it will be.

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9 minutes ago, Tony85 said:

Could do with sliding qualification spots that change after each competition depending on how well a continent's teams did. Reward Asian / African / North American teams when their countries do well but just don't give them places for the sake of it. Having said that theres far too many European / South American teams in the new format as it is. Just highlights how bloated it will be.

Take it further, base it on relativity. With all the money in Europe and the strength of the leagues, reduce European slots every time they fail to lock out the semi-final positions.

Just can't keep rewarding mediocrity :rolleyes:

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3 hours ago, git2thachoppa said:

Traditionally 5, but Saudi Arabia have a poor World Cup record and obviously form changes. I guess now's their chance to get wins in future if not at this World Cup.

Uzbekistan are the best of the rest, always never quite make it. I guess they can now.

Nah, Uzbekistan are the Scotland of Asia. They always find a way to screw up.

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Just now, Heartwork said:

Oceana still left in the cold

I would've given them 1.5

If Tahiti or whoever win their region, they're not beating much, but if they beat one or two other .5 teams then they deserve to be there.

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3 minutes ago, git2thachoppa said:

I would've given them 1.5

If Tahiti or whoever win their region, they're not beating much, but if they beat one or two other .5 teams then they deserve to be there.

Oh wait apparently the playoffs will involve one team from each confederation (except UEFA) and one extra from the host continent. So it is technically 1.5.

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5 minutes ago, Heartwork said:

Oceana still left in the cold

1 place is enough.  No-one wants to see Fiji and American Samoa lose 20-0 each game.

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Just now, Crispypaul said:

1 place is enough.  No-one wants to see Fiji and American Samoa lose 20-0 each game.

Expecting American Samoa to qualify? You're ambitious. The teams in Oceania are starting to catch up with New Zealand, with Tahiti winning the OFC Nations Cup in 2012, or New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu qualifying for youth internationals (and Vanuatu very much holding their own - losing 3-2 to Mexico thanks to a 94th minute winner and 3-2 to Germany).

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45 minutes ago, Crispypaul said:

1 place is enough.  No-one wants to see Fiji and American Samoa lose 20-0 each game.

Yes, we saw it when Tahiti played the Confederations Cup in 2013:

 

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22 minutes ago, Heartwork said:

Meanwhile in a more recent example 

 

Bit mainstream for you isn't this? ;)

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1 minute ago, Crispypaul said:

Bit mainstream for you isn't this? ;)

Football's football. Watching Vanuatu terrify Germany and Mexico into cagey 3-2 wins will always be a joy.

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Shame they will probably be rubbish by the time they reach senior football level.

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15 minutes ago, PMLF said:

Shame they will probably be rubbish by the time they reach senior football level.

Homesickness does seem to be a problem for some of the players. Bong Kalo recently went back to Vanuatu after half a season in Switzerland where he played well but seemingly didn't settle. Fiji will be pinning their hopes on Stoke City kid Scott Wara (who's still uncapped but has appeared in squads for Fiji so has declared for them) inspiring more players to try their luck, as Roy Krishna's not getting any younger. Papua New Guinea have a couple of players in the USA, Germany (Alwin Komolong at Stuttgarter Kickers) and Netherlands (David Browne at FC Groningen) so are putting in the work to try and export talent, although the others (aside from American Samoa who have started to exploit their links with the USA by getting players into the college system) have largely stayed domestic, which will probably hinder their progress.

There's also sometimes the problem of players not being taken seriously because of their national team's status. A number of high profile Indian teams rejected Chencho Gyeltshen without even looking at him because they didn't take Bhutanese football seriously, but then he went to unfancied Minerva Punjab and was their star player as they won the title, leading to traditional "big clubs" and Indian Super League teams taking an interest.

Edited by Heartwork

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8 places for Asia?! Obviously a ploy to make sure China and some of the rich Arab nations get in.

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It'd be interesting to see if some of the non-European UEFA members are tempted to switch. If you're Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan you probably fancy your chances of being one of 8 Asian qualifiers. (Not sure the Asian Champions League is quite as financially attractive a prize as the Europa League to their club sides, mind you)

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Russian and Turkish clubs are actually competitive in European competitions and th

Georgia and Armenia could definitely benefit from switching though.

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55 minutes ago, decapitated said:

Georgia, Turkey and Armenia too

+ Azerbeidzjan & Kazakhstan

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

8 places for Asia?! Obviously a ploy to make sure China and some of the rich Arab nations get in.

No as China, Qatar and UAE will still struggle to qualify as they are, even India aren't even in the top 30 Asian teams.

Asia is a big 5 of Iran, Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan. After that is Uzbekistan, who always just miss the World Cup. Then you have a huge chunk of teams who do well or flop every year or 4.

So there's only 2 places for everyone else on paper, and that could go to anyone, and you wouldn't put money on any rich nation except maybe UAE. This year it would've been Syria at the World Cup!

Edited by git2thachoppa

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58 minutes ago, enigmatic said:

Russian and Turkish clubs are actually competitive in European competitions and th

Georgia and Armenia could definitely benefit from switching though.

Georgia and Armenia are culturally European though, they would feel weird playing in Asia. Azerbaijan would fit in perfectly well though, as Kazakhstan would too. Even Turkey would too, although as you said, they have a competitive league in Europe, so no need to move.

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3 minutes ago, PMLF said:

Georgia and Armenia are culturally European though, they would feel weird playing in Asia. Azerbaijan would fit in perfectly well though, as Kazakhstan would too. Even Turkey would too, although as you said, they have a competitive league in Europe, so no need to move.

Australia aren't exactly "culturally Asian" though are they?

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Just now, Weezer said:

Australia aren't exactly "culturally Asian" though are they?

Yes, they aren't but hard to blame them for moving as Oceania is a pretty awful confederation. 

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I thought that AFC and OFC may  have had their qualification competitions merged.

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1 minute ago, Blue Lou said:

I thought that AFC and OFC may  have had their qualification competitions merged.

That's between the AFC and OFC. On the pitch it would be great for OFC, off the pitch you're asking a lot for tiny Oceania islands (like travel), and there's the politics that would occur between the two federations.

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6 minutes ago, git2thachoppa said:

That's between the AFC and OFC. On the pitch it would be great for OFC, off the pitch you're asking a lot for tiny Oceania islands (like travel), and there's the politics that would occur between the two federations.

Leaving aside political issues, you could keep the OFC Quals as they are now, but with its winner entering the final stage of the AFC Quals, rather than playing the intercontinental playoff.

 

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2 hours ago, PMLF said:

Leaving aside political issues, you could keep the OFC Quals as they are now, but with its winner entering the final stage of the AFC Quals, rather than playing the intercontinental playoff.

This would make too much sense to actually happen...

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2 hours ago, PMLF said:

Leaving aside political issues, you could keep the OFC Quals as they are now, but with its winner entering the final stage of the AFC Quals, rather than playing the intercontinental playoff.

 

I mean, the OFC qualis already tend to happen anything up to 2 years before the World Cup. Could even put them in a little bit earlier and invite all semi-finalists from the OFC qualification tournament into it.

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3 minutes ago, Maple said:

It would be quite interesting if Israel applied to become part of the AFC. 

Why on Earth would they do that?

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I remember reading that Wales got into one of the world cups in the 1950s as all the nations in the asian/african zone refused to play Israel, and it was felt they couldn't have a bye straight into the tournament so they played a home and away against a randomly selected losing European nation and Wales was selected and beat them. Theres no way any Arab nation, and most Muslim ones, even ones with a peace treaty with them, could ever play Israel even if they wanted to.

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4 minutes ago, git2thachoppa said:

Why on Earth would they do that?

To have a very likely World Cup qualification of course. 

And theoretically UEFA could get quite annoyed with the proposed allocation and threaten to throw out the geographically non-European members like Israel to force a reallocation from Asia. If it was based on strength I reckon European allocation should be close to 30. And team strength seems to have been used when allocating six teams to CONMEBOL who have less than 1/5 of the teams Europe has.

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I don't think there's too much danger of Israel switching allegiance to the Asian federation :D 

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That idea of a playoff competition replacing the Confederations Cup sounds good though. Obviously wouldn't be the most glamorous tournament, but would be ultra competitive if they're mostly teams who have never qualified for a World Cup going all out to try and make it. 

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2 minutes ago, Maple said:

To have a very likely World Cup qualification of course. 

And theoretically UEFA could get quite annoyed with the proposed allocation and threaten to throw out the geographically non-European members like Israel to force a reallocation from Asia. If it was based on strength I reckon European allocation should be close to 30. And team strength seems to have been used when allocating six teams to CONMEBOL who have less than 1/5 of the teams Europe has.

There's a rather good reason Isreal play in UEFA despite clearly being in Asia ffs :D

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The amount of places going to Asia and North America is stupid. It means that there's a group of teams - Costa Rica, USA, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia - who are nearly nailed-on to qualify despite not being any better than various European sides who are only long-shots to make it. Makes qualification completely meaningless for them, reducing interest in the national team in some crucial regions, while bloating the World Cup with some serious hot garbage that finishes below them.

If you were allocating based on strength, and had as many teams as possible without non-competitive groups, I'd go for 40 teams with a split of:

  • 16 Europe
  • 10 Americas (North and South combined)
  • 8 Africa
  • 4 Asia (including Oceania)
  • 2 Playoffs (1 team from each of the above participating)

 

Then 8 groups of 5, each group having  2 from Europe, 1 from Africa, 1-2 from the Americas (no more than one from the North and 1 from the South), and 0-1 from Asia or the Playoffs. Top 2 go through to straight knockouts.

Edited by Spurs08

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16 minutes ago, Spurs08 said:

The amount of places going to Asia and North America is stupid. It means that there's a group of teams - Costa Rica, USA, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Iran and Saudi Arabia - who are nearly nailed-on to qualify despite not being any better than various European sides who are only long-shots to make it. Makes qualification completely meaningless for them, reducing interest in the national team in some crucial regions, while bloating the World Cup with some serious hot garbage that finishes below them.

If you were allocating based on strength, and had as many teams as possible without non-competitive groups, I'd go for 40 teams with a split of:

  • 16 Europe
  • 10 Americas (North and South combined)
  • 8 Africa
  • 4 Asia (including Oceania)
  • 2 Playoffs (1 team from each of the above participating)

 

Then 8 groups of 5, each group having  2 from Europe, 1 from Africa, 1-2 from the Americas (no more than one from the North and 1 from the South), and 0-1 from Asia or the Playoffs. Top 2 go through to straight knockouts.

The expansion to 48 is guaranteeing crap teams and bad football happening anyway (just look at Euro 2016), so may as well not make it worse by flooding it with mediocre European teams rather than have some variety with mediocre Asian and NA teams.

For 32 teams, this is what I psychically said before the announcement:

Spoiler

4.5 to South America
5.5 to Asia
1.5 to Oceania
6.5 to Africa
4.5 to North America
9.5 to Europe

1 more team (the '.5') from each continent separated into two groups of 3, seeding the South Americans and Europeans, for 3 more spots.

This could perhaps act as a World Cup pre-show like the cancelled Confederations Cup. That way you could have a 'final' between the runner-ups in both groups to decide the final spot and it would mean something.

Something of this proportion is fine by me for a crap 48-team one.

29 minutes ago, Maple said:

To have a very likely World Cup qualification of course.

As others have hinted, this is a very misplaced "of course". :D

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2 hours ago, G-Man11 said:

There's a rather good reason Isreal play in UEFA despite clearly being in Asia ffs :D

Haven't Israel technically played in every confederation including OFC?

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5 minutes ago, Heartwork said:

Haven't Israel technically played in every confederation including OFC?

Israel was only member of AFC and UEFA, and played the OFC Qualifiers too. They never played in the other regions.

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3 hours ago, decapitated said:

Wales got into one of the world cups in the 1950s as all the nations in the asian/african zone refused to play Israel, and it was felt they couldn't have a bye straight into the tournament so they played a home and away against a randomly selected losing European nation and Wales was selected and beat them.

Yeah, this is the true story of Wales' only WC appearance in 1958.  They drone on about making the quarters and playing Brazil, Pele this, Pele that.  But they were knocked out in qualifying by the Czechs and only got reinstated to play Israel because nobody else would.  They weren't even the first lucky loser picked out from the UEFA groups, Belgium were drawn out first and refused to play them as well :D

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I'm totally disagreeing with people who say Asia isn't good enough. The FIFA ranking is totally biased against them right now. I mean Japan at this moment is at place 63, while most of us think they may qualify from their group, so they are probably top 32 of the world right now. Asian teams are underrated and get heavier draws for that. Still in 2010 and 2002 both Japan and S. Korea reached the second round at least. Australia did that in 2006. And the teams beneath them will come up slowly. India has gone up 50 places, Thailand starts to be very dangerous. Not Brazil, but Indonesia is the most populous nation with Football as their most important sport. In 12-16 years Asia will shock big time. And especially the difference between for example Slovakia and Uzbekistan will not be that big. I can also make the same argument for Africa.(not really for NAM and Oceania though.)

 

 

Though if we want a WC with just possible winners we should just make one with 3 from the America's 4 teams from Europe and 1 from th rest of the World. With 48 teams everything starts to be evenly mediocre and we should add more African and Asian teams in the party.

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