Whether or not FIFA goes ahead with an expanded World Cup in 2022, we already know it will happen for 2026. 48 teams, resetting what we know about the tournament. For Concacaf, the early issue is number of qualifying spots and how World Cup qualifying will work in the era of expansion.
It's worth the reminder that Concacaf would've already changed World Cup qualifying had they gotten four automatic spots. Their plan was to have two final groups rather than the Hexagonal. Instead, Concacaf's 3.5 spots kept the Hex in place. It was living on borrowed time, no longer necessary when an expanded World Cup should give the region six qualifying spots. Concacaf wants more.
Last month, Concacaf president Victor Montagliani set the number of qualifying spots higher pushing for eight. In 2026, there's the issue of automatic qualifying spots for the three joint hosts.
"Obviously we’ve got a while to go in terms of the format,” Montagliani told MLSsoccer's Charles Boehm. “How you would qualify for a World Cup, first within Concacaf, is up to us. So we haven’t determined that. Obviously a Hex won’t work, because we have more teams. We also will obviously be pushing for three automatic berths for the host nations, that is a decision that will be made ultimately by FIFA, but we’re confident in that."
Should FIFA disrupt the qualifying for 2022 by a late expansion of the World Cup, it creates interesting scenarios across the world. What it means in general is more opportunity, but it would also rob the confederations of a last cycle conducting business as usual. There's value in what we have, something we see every time the Hexagonal begins. That's worth voicing when FIFA meets in Miami in March to make decisions that could change the game. Inside World Football's Andrew Warshaw has FIFA deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban's comments on the expanded World Cup, new tournaments, and outside investment.
The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Ferenchik reports on the City Council going ahead with $50m for developing the site for the proposed Crew stadium. The San Diego Union Tribune's Mark Zeigler talks to new Club Tijuana coach Oscar Pareja. The Philadelphia Union's Jonathan Tannenwald interviews Ryan Mooney who is leaving as US Soccer's "chief soccer officer" for Playmakers Management Group that's connected to the Philadelphia Union. AP's Tales Azzoni with La Liga not going ahead with a game in Miami in January.
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