Oceania – FIFA’s great unwanted

March 30, 2011

So once again those corrupt FIFA delegates have failed Oceania.

At their latest champagne and caviar jaunt a month ago, they set about allocating the world cup spots for 2014. Predictably the assigned the same spots as they had for 2010 with the sole exception being the transfer of the host spot from Africa to South America.  Europe have 13 places, Africa have 5, Sth America 5½, Asia 4½, Nth & Central America 3½ and Oceania just ½ a spot. FIFA’s allocation of places seems to be completely random. It is not based on population. It is not based on past success. It is not based on present success…its a complete farce.

Frankly it is a disgrace and defies natural justice in so many different ways.

As a confederation with full status and rights, OFC should have at least one direct spot. The best team in every other confederation qualifies automatically so why not OFC? FIFA is being inconsistent. After all, OFC receives direct spots in ALL other FIFA Tournaments, so why not the main one? That old familiar line is trotted out….Oceania is by far the weakest confederation and doesn’t deserve a spot. So we are weaker at senior level than we are at junior or women’s levels?? I don’t think so. Oh but a direct place for Oceania effectively means a direct place for New Zealand. Funny that – that’s what they said about Australia and whilst it might well be true for now, it might not be that way for long. It used to be that a direct spot for Concacaf was a direct spot for Mexico….

So how do you deserve a spot, exactly? Success? Size? Competitiveness? History? And is Oceania really the weakest by far? Since Espana 82 the OFC winner has been given a ludicrous qualifying path playing off against top teams from Europe and Sth America. Finally in 2006 Australia made it after a play off against Uruguay. The reality is that many top European nations would find it tough playing Uruguay home and away to qualify, and whilst we would still expect the top half dozen UEFA teams to make it, they wouldn’t relish the task.  Australia went on to qualify for the last 16 – not bad for a team from such a weak confederation. In 2010, as we will all recall, New Zealand also made it and came home unbeaten – and only a hairs breadth away from a place in the last 16. We were given an astonishingly bad deal from referees – we conceded two goals and both should have been ruled out…we were denied blatant penalties and still we were unbeaten. Is there no reward for successive good performances from OFC countries?

And how does Oceania compare to the other confederations?

In 2010 only 1 out of 6 African nations made the second round in their HOME continent yet they retain 5 direct spots????Only 6 European nations out of 13 – less than half! –  made the second round yet they retain 13 spots???? All 5 South American countries made the 2nd round and 4 of those made the quarters yet the only additional place they get is the hosts?? It would seem then that there is no correlation between success or ability and direct qualifying spots.

It is a joke.

Would the world cup as a spectacle be any the less because Oceania had 1 direct qualifier and Europe 12 ½? No it would not.

Does the 4th qualifier from Asia really justify a spot more than the winner of Oceania? Compare North Korea v New Zealand in 2010. 7-0 they lost…to Portugal, compare Saudi Arabia in 2002…8-0 they lost to Germany. New Zealand didn’t lose a match.

Does the 3rd team from Concacaf justify a spot more than the winner of Oceania? Honduras….who did okay….. but would it make a difference  really if it was Oceania that was given the direct place?

The world cup is not for the BEST 32 teams in the world. (Perhaps it should be!) The world cup is for the best teams from around the world……everywhere that is except Oceania.

And there was another sting in the tail too…..not only does Oceania only get half a spot, but the winner will go into a draw to determine which other confederation they play against….so there’s a 33% chance that we will play a South American team… Oh well…at least it won’t be Brazil.