FIFA proposes Americas-wide qualifying contest for 2026, says official

Sun Jan 8, 2017 8:30am EST
 
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By Brian Homewood

(Reuters) - FIFA has proposed merging the CONCACAF and South American qualifiers as part of its plans to expand the 2026 World Cup, a leading official from the region said in a newspaper interview.

Venezuelan Football Federation president Laureano Gonzalez said the idea for the merger had come from FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

Gonzalez, who is also a vice-president of CONMEBOL, the governing body for South America, said it would want at least 14 places at the finals for the two regions combined before accepting the proposal.

CONCACAF represents North and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

The FIFA Council is due to vote on Tuesday whether to increase the number of teams at the finals from the current 32 to either 40 or 48 from 2026. FIFA will decide at a later date which regions will be awarded the additional slots.

CONMEBOL currently has four-and-a-half places at the World Cup for its 10 members while CONCACAF, which has 35 FIFA members in its ranks, has three-and-a-half places.

"There is a suggestion from Gianni Infantino to unify the CONMEBOL and CONCACAF qualifiers," Gonzalez told the Venezuelan sports daily Meridiano.

"This would have support if they gave us more places. At the moment, we have seven between the two confederations, plus two half places," he said.   Continued...

 
Cars drive past a logo in front of FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann - RTSGJA3