As I see it, one of the most frustrating aspects of our football world, is FIFA’s organisation of countries into ‘confederations’. There are currently 6 confederations which the majority, (not all), of FIFA’s member countries are organised into. They’re as follow:
- Union of European football Association (UEFA),
- Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF),
- Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF),
- Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL),
- Oceania Football Confederation(OFC) and
- Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
This map will help you better understand the configuration, (cheers Wikipedia!).
There are roughly 211 countries which make up the above confederations with CAF having the most members at 54 and CONMEBOL the lowest with only 10. It is the latter which spurred this blog post. Let me explain why.
Each confederation have their own tournament, which each member country competes in, either directly or via qualification. The Euro’s is most popular among football fans as it consists of countries such as England, Spain, Germany etc.
2019’s edition of the Coap America, (CONMEBOLs confederation tournament), will be the 46th edition of the tournament. Being the smallest of the confederations, (only consisting of South America), additional teams are usually invited from others confederation to compete in the tournament. These invitations first began in 1993.
Twelve team will compete in this year’s edition, and while having three groups of four works more effectively than two groups of five, it took until 1993 before the extra team slots were added. The teams that have been invited this year has raised a few eyebrows, including mine. Generally the invitations have been extended to teams from CONCACAF confederation and strangely enough one to Japan, (nfi why, apparantly close relations with AFC, cough, money, cough).
But this year, the Copa America tournament will see two teams from the AFC compete in the competition with Japan and Qatar both joining an competing against the likes of Brazil and Argentina. This is because the teams from the CONCACAF declined the invitations due to other tournament commitments.
Here is where the confusion begins around this whole confederation malarkey. With proper design and structure, something like this would just not be an issue. The fact that it is possible for two AFC based teams to win a South American national cup, which has been around for 103 years, is just baffling. Historically, only teams from South America have ever won the tournament, but the fact that it is a possibility for another country to take the prize is just absurd.
Let’s discuss a quick hypothetical situation.
If you may or may not know, winning this tournament guarantees qualifications to FIFA’s Confederations Cup competition. This competition includes the winners from each respective confederation tournament. Now let’s just say Japan wins the Copa America and Qatar go on to win the AFC. Then what? Does that mean there wouldn’t be a representative nation from South America in the Confederations Cup?
The way I see it, FIFA’s governing body, who make all the decisions, are controlled by money hungry old men. They’re not football fans like you and I. They only care about generating more revenue to line their own pockets. To argue this fact would be to say that the inclusion of oil rich Qatar, who were successful in their bid for the 2022 World Cup by the way, earned the right to compete in the Copa America on merit alone…
What is the solution? Fix the fucking confederations. How? Easier said then done, but this is the way I view the solution. Maybe it isn’t feasible but something has to change. Start off by merging the two smallest confederations with their neighbouring confederations.
This would mean that CONMEBOL and CONCACAF would become one and the OFC would join the AFC. Currently the OFC only receive half a World Cup qualification spot/ They are required to play an intercontinental play-off game against teams from other confederations, and win, in order to play in the finals.
Additionally the Confederations Cup would need to be altered. I propose that the top two teams from each qualifying tournament be included in the competition. This would ensure that there would still be 8 teams competing, which is currently the case.
Finally, the qualification spots for the FIFA World Cup need to be fairly distributed among each confederation. It is completely unfair that UEFA hold 13 of the available 31 qualifying positions, (one is reserved for the host nation), while the largest confederation, (CAF), receive five. Regardless of the quality difference from a team like Spain, to a team like American Samoa, the only way to bridge that gap and enable smaller countries to become competitive is through, funding, exposure and extra competition.
We know that FIFA have money. It’s not a big secret. According to media reports, the revenue from the 2018 world cup was roughly around $8.4 Billion, obviously all that revenue didn’t go straight back to into FIFA. A lot of the money is spread among the teams as prize money, help with World Cup preparation and other facets of the game.
But why is it that the favoured UEFA continually receive the majority of the funds? How is that fair for smaller nations trying to make their stamp on the world stage? Well it isn’t. And it wont be while we have old white haired jabronies in charge.
I understand that my views are may seem a bit naive, but I believe in equality. What do you believe in? What do you think is the solution to this mess? Let me know in the comments below!