CONCACAF to revise World Cup qualifying format

Among the possible formats under discussion would be having three groups of four, much like the old semifinal round.

Football

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: CONCACAF will revise its World Cup 2022 qualifying format.   -  Getty Images

CONCACAF will revise its World Cup qualifying format following FIFA’s decision on Thursday to remove September dates from the international match calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The hexagonal that determines the three direct qualifiers for North and Central America and the Caribbean was scheduled to have two games each in September, October and November, followed by two matches apiece in March and September of 2021.

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The U.S. was supposed to have been in the six-nation hexagonal with Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica and either El Salvador or Canada. The final berth was to be determined by FIFA rankings in June, but matches in March and June were scrapped because of the deadly viral outbreak.

"The challenges presented by postponements to the football calendar, and the incomplete FIFA rankings cycle in our confederation, means our current World Cup qualifying process has been compromised and will be changed,” CONCACAF said in a statement. “We will now work with the new framework provided and liaise with FIFA to finalize a new World Cup qualification format for the CONCACAF.”

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Among the possible formats under discussion would be having three groups of four, much like the old semifinal round. The group winners would qualify for the 2022 tournament in Qatar, and there would be playoff opportunities for some teams that don’t finish first.

FIFA extended the June 2021 match window by seven days, allowing four matches instead of two. It moved the intercontinental playoffs from March 2022 to June 2022.

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