CONCACAF looking to increase football activity in the Caribbean
A three-way bid for the 2026 World Cup and a change to the FIFA World Cup qualifying system could help CONCACAF resolve rift between regions.
Manchester, England: CONCACAF wants Canada, Mexico and the United States to all have guaranteed slots at the 2026 FIFA World Cup if a three-way bid for the tournament succeeds.
The joint bid for 2026 would involve 60 matches in the United States and 10 each in Canada and Mexico.
“CONCACAF would have 6.5 qualifying slots so it would only be natural for all three teams to have a slot,” said CONCACAF general secretary Philippe Moggio at the annual Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, England.
CONCACAF is considering making changes to its World Cup qualifying format, which culminates in the Hexagonal tournament involving just six teams.
Mr Moggio added: “The format will have to change. Most of our member associations are eliminated early. In UEFA, all the teams are involved to the end but in CONCACAF we have most of our teams laying idle.”
Changes to the World Cup qualifying would help the regional body resolve a bitter rift between its North American leadership and the Caribbean members that make up the bulk of the membership.
In March 2017, CONCACAF, which has 41 members, took direct control of qualifying for its club events in the Caribbean and has opened an office there to oversee this work.
The CFU’s members have grown increasingly disenchanted with CONCACAF and before this year’s Gold Cup, French Guiana, which is a full CONCACAF member but not in FIFA, admitted it was considering leaving to join CONMEBOL.
Mr Moggio disclosed that CONCACAF had invested U$D1 million on staging club competitions in the Caribbean but insisted there was still a role for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).
He explained: “Our new Champions League format is improving the club level and we are focusing on how we can increase club competition around the Caribbean.”
CONCACAF is also making other moves to pacify the Caribbean and Mr Moggio told the Soccerex conference that his organisation wants to expand the number of teams at its biennial Gold Cup.
Mr Moggio said: “CONCACAF earns most of its revenue from the Gold Cup. As the engine of growth for us, we’re looking at expanding from 12 to 16 teams.”
In response to a question about UEFA’s new Nations League concept, which uses the international breaks to play friendlies between its members, Mr Moggio said that CONCACAF was considering a similar proposal to try and get its member associations to play more often.
He said: “What UEFA has done has maximised the international calendar, but has also taken away friendlies.
“Most of our members are not even playing friendlies because they don’t have the resources. A lot are out of the World Cup qualifiers early, they are sitting idle and out of the market.”
Mr Moggio, who did not take questions from the audience, did not explain how his member associations would be able to afford to play friendlies, but FIFA’s new financial assistance programme is taking the money given to its members from U$1 million every four years up to U$5 million.
Steve Menary is covering the Soccerex Global Convention 2017 for Play the Game.
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The Soccerex Global Convention is taking place between 4-6 September 2017 in Manchester England.Read more about the convention