Warner wants four

Date Published: 
Jamaica Gleaner

NEW YORK, (Reuters):

THE Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) wants four places for the 2006 World Cup, its president Jack Warner said yesterday.

Based on the performance of the confederation's three representatives at the 2002 World Cup - the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica - Warner believes CONCACAF has earned an additional spot increasing its allocation to four.

"I have let it be known, at all the levels that count, that we shall make every possible effort to obtain a fourth place for CONCACAF in the World Cup of 2006," said Warner, who is also a vice-president of FIFA, world soccer's governing body.

"It is only right and proper that we should be able to send our best four because who in the world can argue that our best three did not stand up to the best the other confederations have to offer?

"And who can argue that our best four could not do the same?"

The U.S. carried the CONCACAF banner the furthest in South Korea and Japan, reaching the
quarter-finals for the first time since 1930 where they were beaten 1-0 by Germany.

Mexico also surprised by finishing top of Group G, ahead of three-times World Cup winners
Italy and Croatia, who finished third in 1998.

Costa Rica failed to qualify for the second phase after losing out on goal difference to Turkey, who were beaten by eventual winners Brazil in the semi-finals.

With the holders no longer automatically qualifying for the 2006 finals, FIFA's member confederations are all expected to engage in intense lobbying for the coveted berth.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has also hinted at a redistribution of the 32 places.

Asia, which threatened to pull out of the 2002 World Cup if it did not receive an additional spot, currently has four and a half, which includes a playoff berth, and is seeking five.

Ireland beat Iran in the playoffs to deny Asia a fifth representative at last month's tournament.

Oceania has also been seeking an automatic berth rather than having to playoff for a place in the finals.

The African Confederation also feels it deserves an additional place given the rapid growth of
the sport in the continent.