CONCACAF, the region encompassing North and Central America and the Caribbean, will receive three automatic berths in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and send an additional team to a qualifying playoff -- no change from recent tournaments. The organization had been lobbying FIFA to eliminate the playoff stage and grant the confederation a fourth automatic slot.
What will change is the process of determining the playoff opponent. Instead of pre-set matchups, an open draw will decide the pairings. For the 2010 World Cup, fourth-place Costa Rica faced South America’s fifth-place side, Uruguay, which won the two-leg playoff and ultimately advanced to the semifinals in South Africa. In the other playoff, Oceania champion New Zealand defeated Bahrain, Asia’s fourth-place nation.
Under the new system, the CONCACAF representative could play a team from South America, Asia or Oceania. It’s unclear when the draw would take place.
The allocation breakdown:
Europe 13 teams
South America 5 (including host Brazil), plus a playoff team
Asia 4, plus a playoff team
CONCACAF 3, plus a playoff team
Oceania no automatics, one playoff team
In other news, Canada was awarded the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Zimbabwe had also expressed interest but later withdrew.