Because for some reason I can't stop with this hypothetical football competition mapping, and the World Cup news offering fresh material to work with, and people moaning about how it will ruin World Cup Qualifiers particularly in the continent with the fewest but most competitive members, I
got bored at work and decided to take on the mental challenge of making South America's Qualifiers non-redundant.
This format works on the assumption that South America will receive 6.5 World Cup places in the expansion:
- First, the 10 teams are drawn into 2 groups of 5 and play eachother home & away for a total of 8 matches each.
- The top 2 teams in each group qualify directly to the World Cup, as well as for a new 4-team tournament called the CONMEBOL Nations League. Each team could play the other home & away for a total of 6 matches each.
- Meanwhile, the teams who finished 3rd-5th in the First Qualifying Round move to the Second Qualifying Round, where they will play in 2 groups of 3 (home & away for 4 matches each). Both the group winners qualify.
- 2nd place in each group then go to the Third Qualifying Round, a home & away Play-Off to decide the team that makes the Intercontinental Play-Offs.
- An alternative format is to have 1 group of 6 in the Second Qualifying Round, with the results from the First carrying over between teams that have already met, or to play the league as normal. Either way, the top 2 would qualify and 3rd place would enter the Intercontinental Play-Offs.
- If South America end up with 7 or 7.5 places, the Second Round onwards is tweaked accordingly.
This format takes away the unique 'league' structure, but does deliver something that would remain competitive throughout, would be played over the same or lower number of matches (the most any team will play is 18 (not including intercontinental stuff) compared with the current, er, 18)
, and for the big performers allows them to claim their reward early as well as compete for an elite new tournament, and frees up some international windows to spare, so Brazil can carry on adding dates to their never-ending 'World Tour' (assuming they don't bottle it in the new format)
As per usual, any relevant FIFA or CONMEBOL executives out there can DM me for my payment details.