2014 FIFA World Cup: Why CONCACAF and CONMEBOL Should Merge
As the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers heat up, I have a proposal to make that would make future qualifying campaigns better and more entertaining. Let's combine CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.
CONCACAF has a reputation of being an easy region to qualify in, and if the United States ever fails to qualify in North America, where it is by far the largest country, it would be no less than an utter disaster. The only other side in the North American region that is considered world class is Mexico, who at the moment has one of the top teams in the world.
CONMEBOL is a completely different story, generally regarded as the toughest region to qualify in, behind only Europe. The South American Football Confederation boasts some of the greatest national sides of all time, including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Almost every qualifying game is unpredictable, as evidenced by Argentina's, first ever, loss at Colombia. In South America, futbol is a way of life and the environments that the matches are played in can be extremely hostile to opposing teams and require even the best sides in the world to have to dig deep to get all three points.
However, both regions would see advantages from combining the two qualifying regions. For South America, it would be a much needed change of pace. There are only a measly 11 countries in the region, so you can imagine how often the same teams end up playing each other over and over again. This would allow the sides from South America to play in completely new places and against different styles of play from the ones they face on their home continent.
As for North America, it would provide a MUCH NEEDED rise in quality, especially for the US and Mexico, who consistently dominate the smaller Central American and Caribbean countries. While the US and Mexico generally do very well, the third team that qualifies usually doesn't, and if another North American country was to qualify, it would have earned it by showing its metal against the top South American sides. In some cases, teams can qualify in CONCACAF without gaining even a point against the US or Mexico. If the two groups were merged together, then the quality of teams going through to the World Cup would be better, and they would probably fare better in the competition.
As for the top sides in the North American zone, the US, Mexico and possibly Canada, they would all get the experience of going to a hostile environment in Venezuela or a packed house in Brazil, which would inevitably provide a greater challenge and make them better. Frankly, CONCACAF is weak and I would be interested to see how their top sides would fare against quality CONMEBOL opposition.
At the present moment, CONCACAF holds three qualifying spots and one playoff, CONMEBOL holds four qualifying spots and one playoff and Brazil is hosting the cup and qualifies automatically. So if the two regions were to combine, there would be roughly eight qualifying spots, as there can't be more than one playoff coming out of a region.
There would be an ample amount of qualifying spots for the Americas, and it would provide additional entertainment value as well. Could you imagine having Brazil or Argentina coming to the US every qualifying cycle? It could greatly drive up interest in the national side.
As for the smaller North American countries like El Salvador and Honduras, they would find out what it's like to be a solid team stuck in the whirlpool of talent that is Europe.
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