Warner, of course, is breathtakingly corrupt and no doubt an all around bad guy. So it is somewhat discomfiting to find myself agreeing, largely, with his central point. According to one article:
"We believe that CONCACAF deserves another full place at the World Cup finals due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederation off it," Warner said in a statement.In another quote he goes a little far:
"Our teams have proven themselves on the field of play, our administrative capacity has grown on and off the field of play and we have shown that CONCACAF is a powerhouse."I'm not ready to call CONCACAF a powerhouse any time soon, but I think there is merit to Warner's argument. Of course, any case should be built upon actual data, and I actually looked into the numbers a little over a year ago, prior to South Africa 2010. What they said, in short, was that CONCACAF teams, since 1994, have picked up a greater percentage of available points than did Asian or African teams.
With another World Cup gone by, the numbers need updating. Here they are now:
These numbers, by the way, are points earned in the group stages. Since none of AFC, CAF, and CONCACAF teams have done much of anything beyond that round of play, it is the best data for comparison.
Unsurprisingly, CONMEBOL and UEFA are miles ahead. Oceania's numbers can be discounted due to a small sample size. Of the rest, CONCACAF has distanced itself from Asia and Africa. Like Warner says, greater representation is deserved.
Will it happen? Unlikely. A potential solution would be to make CONCACAF permanent playoff partners for the half-spot with Oceania (aka New Zealand), the perceived weakest opponent. I'd settle for Asia.
The greatest injustice, of course, is that Asia has as many spots as South America. If FIFA wants to use population and money as an argument for regional represenation, they should apply it consistently (Europe would end up with fewer spots if this were the case).
Update 3:51pm Wednesday: CBC's John Molinaro has weighed in. It's clear from the title of his blog post which side of the debate he is on: CONCACAF living in a fool's paradise
I don't really think we're all that far apart, he and I. He argues that when it comes right down to it, only UEFA and CONMEBOL are under-represented. Have a look at my numbers above and see who scores highest. Coincidence?
However, his metric for comparing teams is not points in the group stage, but rather quarter-final appearances. On that basis, he suggests that CONCACAF reaching the QFs only three times, all-time, is not enough to merit more representation. But those 3 quarter-final appearances are the same as Africa's 3, and 2 more than Asia has made. Africa and Asia have more spots than CONCACAF. Seems like a neat little piece of "If A and B then C" logic (that's a syllogism, right?) to argue for one of those half spots to come this way.
He also trots out the tired line that CONCACAF is really a two-team region (Mexico and USA). Is Asia a one-team region? Is CONMEBOL, in the last 20 years, a 2-team region with a little miracle run by Uruguay?
Ultimately, it matters little as any decision on spots is unlikely to consider performance on the field, given how ethically-challenged FIFA has been of late.