Sport

New Concacaf World Cup qualifying format a benefit to all — Reid

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, September 15, 2019

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Concacaf Director of Caribbean Member Association Affairs Horace Reid says the twin-plank of the Nations League and new format of World Cup qualification will redound to the benefit of all 41 members of the confederation.

Apart from increased competitive matches across both platforms and the obvious development value that will accrue from greater access to the sport, the Jamaican Reid reminds there is also an economic component.

“The Concacaf National League (CNL) has revolutionised the game, transformed the mindset, and generated unprecedented hope within our member associations. Over the past 10 days, 33 official matches were played and in the history of our confederation, this is the first and only competition whereby all 41 Concacaf member associations are competing together in the same competition.

“This is simply fantastic and speaks to the “Football first and Football for All' vision of Concacaf and his is genuine development,” Reid told the Jamaica Observer.

The former general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation noted that when one looks back at the historic trends over the last six World Cups, four-year cycles, “it is abundantly clear that insufficient football was being played”, and this he claims, has aided in the retardation of the game in Concacaf.

“With Gold Cup qualifiers, the expansion of Gold Cup, Nations League and World Cup qualifiers, the member associations of Concacaf will have a full calendar of official matches in the 2018-2022 cycle. This began with the CNL qualifiers in September 2018 to March 2019. Now we are staging the group stage matches of CNL for 2019 — a total of 102 matches between September and November 2019,” Reid said.

“The new CNL provides an exciting pathway to the Gold Cup, as historically, the North (Canada, Mexico, and USA) automatically qualified and Central America and Caribbean member associations, through Copa Centro-Americana and Caribbean Cup, respectively, competed only amongst themselves for a specified number of slots. But CNL now provides for consolidation of the qualification format for Gold Cup as all 41 member associations will have a qualification pathway to Gold Cup and there will be qualification exemptions as was the case in the past,” the respected football administrator explained.

The new World Cup qualifying format, as explained by Reid, will see simultaneous competitions and an unprecedented number of games.

In addition, teams who prior to this did not have a realistic chance of qualifying can now dream.

The Hexagonal of the Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying will be made up of the top six Fifa-ranked teams up to June 2020, from which three automatically advance.

In a second competition, which is to be played simultaneously with the 'Hex', the other 29 Fifa members will battle for a chance to play-off for the half-spot with the fourth-place finisher of the Hexagonal.

“In 2020 we kick off the World Cup qualifiers which will culminate in 2021. The new process provides a platform for our top six FIFA-ranked nations to compete in a Hexagonal, while also providing an exciting new format for the remaining 29 nations. The 29 MAs will have more competitive, consistent and relevant matches, as the dream will be kept alive with the half-spot. This format will be transitory, as with increased qualifying spots for the 2026 World Cup, the format for the next cycle will be different. This cycle we will have 124 matches compared to 112 in the 2014-2018 cycle,” shared Reid.

“In the previous World Cup qualifying format, for almost two years the majority of our countries weren't playing meaningful football or little to no football and no football means limited development. There would be no opportunity for fans to see their teams in action, no chance for coaches to develop young talent and the loss of vital economic opportunity which comes through media rights and sponsorship for teams,” he added.

Reid, who was recently promoted to his new position that gives him broader powers in the development of the regional game, says with more meaningful games members have been able to cash in on additional income.

“More Caribbean members are receiving more money for their rights than previous cycles. With the current Wold Cup qualifying format, Caribbean nations are playing more matches, and depending on performance, Caribbean members may play up to 39 per cent more matches in this cycle versus the previous cycle (91 total matches versus 65 played in the previous cycle). This means more general TV rights value distribution to member associations,” Reid noted.


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