Thursday, December 17, 2009

Does CONCACAF deserve more World Cup representation?

I find myself in the uncomfortable position of hoping that Honduras does well at next summer's World Cup in order to strengthen the argument that CONCACAF is not, in fact, the weakest of confederations, and therefore deserves an extra half spot. You know, to make qualification for Canada a sight easier. Having 4 teams qualify directly might also cause CONCACAF to reconsider its ludicrous qualifying format where 80% of the teams are eliminated after a year.

Ostensibly, the allocation of spots is based, at least in part, on performances at past World Cups. The best way to compare the weak confederations (Africa, Asia, North/Central America) is to measure the group stage performances of the qualified teams, since so few advance to the later rounds.

I ran the data for World Cups back to 1994, and here are the results:

Points per team in group stage
UEFA 4.84
OFC**** 4
CAF 2.65
AFC 2.43

**** This mark is based entirely on Australia's 2006 performance.

The standard arguments given against further participation from CONCACAF is that the region has only one strong team, Mexico (more recently, two). I dispute the merit of the argument, but even if we accept that argument, removing Mexico's results from the picture yields a CONCACAF number of 2.13. If we do the same for the best African side over that period, Nigeria, and the best Asian country, Korea, those confederations put up 2.29 and 2 respectively.

Population as an argument doesn't hold water: the most populous Asian countries (China, India, Indonesia) have done nothing at all at World Cups, and as federations go, CONCACAF is only marginally smaller than Europe.

Do I think CONCACAF deserves 4 full spots? Of course I do. Asia doesn't deserve what they're getting, and I'll be shocked if they don't prove to be the worst performing confederation at South Africa.

Who's with me?


Anonymous said...

I am.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post and analysis. You have my vote...

Anonymous said...

A slightly flawed argument. Only Mexico and the USA has gotten out of the group, whereas the other confederations have had various nations getting out of the group phase. The Asian confederation is the most populated, not just in people but also in football fans. It is where the future of the game is from a financial poit of view and the countries coming through qualifying have been competitve on the whole so there is no argument on that front for reducing their spots. I would love to see Canada at the World Cup, but short of expanding the number of teams qualifying, I can't see how the current system can be changed. I would like to see more African teams and less European teams also, but it is just not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Best Asian Country , Korea??

Where did you get that idea.
Japan is the best.

J said...

Japan the best? Not at the World Cup, at least recently.

By recently, I mean the 4-world cup span (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006) that I looked at to come up with these numbers.

Cheap New York Jets Tickets said...

In sense of World cup Korea is best in Asia