The Washington Post

FIFA: No major changes to 2014 World Cup allocations. CONCACAF retains 3 automatic berths, one playoff

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

Africa 5

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.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.

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