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Friday, March 31, 2017

Applying the 2026 allocations to the 2014 World Cup

2018 version here.

First of all, I must say I'm against the expansion - and I'm saying this as a fan of a team that hasn't been to the World Cup since 1998. Further more, to quote the late David Taylor, I would like to disabuse anyone of the notion that I would embrace the expansion idea as it would give Romania a better chance of qualifying. More on this later in the post.

CONMEBOL FAs should build a statue for Alejandro Domínguez. Maybe not Brazil and Argentina who always qualify, but the others should. Who is Alejandro Domínguez? President of CONMEBOL and one of guys that come up with the proposed slot allocations for the 2026 World Cup. With South America's depth in quality, they should feel confident of advancing through the global play-offs and send 70% of their members to finals (or 80% when CONMEBOL are hosting). The other confederations don't have such a depth in quality and the CONMEBOL play-off representative should advance most of the times. I don't think South America could have received 7 guaranteed slots, but this is as close as it gets.

I haven't seen an article applying the proposed allocations to the 2014 qualifiers. I'm well aware the qualifying system will change, but I had to start somewhere. So here it goes.

Slot allocations:

Confederation - 2014 actual allocation - New allocation

AFC 4.5 8
CAF 5 9
OFC 0.5 1
UEFA 13 16

I already removed 1 slot from CONMEBOL, as the host slot is taken from the confederation allocation.


Qualified in 2014: Iran, Korea Republic, Japan, Australia.

Jordan lost the AFC-CONMEBOL play-off vs. Uruguay.

New teams: Uzbekistan, Jordan, Qatar, Oman
Global play-off: Iraq (better record than Lebanon).


Qualified in 2014: Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria

New: Burkina Faso, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia

Global play-off: Ethiopia (the only team to lose both games in the CAF play-off).


Qualified in 2014: USA, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico (defeated New Zealand in the CONCACAF-OFC play-off).

New: Panama, Jamaica
Global play-off: Guatemala (best record in the 3rd round).


Qualified in 2014: Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay.

New teams: None.
Global play-off: Venezuela and Peru.


Qualified in 2014: None.

New Zealand lost the CONCACAF-OFC play-off vs. Mexico.

New teams: New Zealand.
Global play-off: New Caledonia.


Qualified in 2014: Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, France

New teams: Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark.
Global play-off: UEFA get a play-off spot only when hosting.

Explanation for the UEFA new teams: I had to change the system from 9 winners + play-off between the 8 best runners-up to 9 winners to 5 best runners-up + play-off between the 4 remaining runners-up. Ukraine and Sweden (eliminated by France and Portugal) were in the top 5 best runners-up. This left Croatia and Denmark seeded, with Romania and Iceland not seeded. Croatia and Iceland were paired in "real life", with Croatia advancing, while Denmark had a higher Elo rating than Romania. So, Romania wouldn't have qualified even with the expansion :)

Global play-off

First round

Seeded: Ethiopia (95), Iraq (103)
Unseeded: Guatemala (112), New Caledonia (126)

Second round

Seeded: Venezuela (37), Peru (39)

Venezuela and Peru also had the highest Elo ratings of the teams involved, so I chose them as winners.

So, a quick recap:

New teams in italic (those coming through the global play-offs are underlined).

AFC: Iran, Korea Republic, Japan, Australia, Uzbekistan, Jordan, Qatar, Oman
CAF: Nigeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia
CONCACAF: USA, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica
CONMEBOL: Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru
OFC: New Zealand
UEFA: Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, France, Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark

Final draw (all pots seeded by October 2013 FIFA ranking)

Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, England, Chile, USA, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Pot 2: Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, France, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Costa Rica, Algeria, Nigeria, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela
Pot 3: Peru, Japan, Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Uzbekistan, Korea Republic, Australia, Cameroon, Senegal, Jordan, New Zealand, Jamaica, Oman, Qatar

And here's a mock draw:

Remember, top 2 from each group advance, not just the group winners as I wrote initially.

Group A: Brazil, Denmark, Egypt
Group B: Italy, Panama, Iran
Group C: Colombia, France, Japan
Group D: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Peru
Group E: Greece, Costa Rica, Cameroon
Group F: Belgium, Ghana, Jordan
Group G: Argentina, Russia, Senegal
Group H: Switzerland, Venezuela, Oman
Group I: Germany, Côte d'Ivoire, Qatar
Group J: Uruguay, Croatia, Tunisia
Group K: Spain, Mexico, Australia
Group L: England, Algeria, Uzbekistan
Group M: Netherlands, Honduras, New Zealand
Group N: USA, Ukraine, Korea Republic
Group O: Portugal, Ecuador, Burkina Faso
Group P: Chile, Sweden, Jamaica

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. isnt it only the top 2 in the groups progress to the round of 32 ?

  2. Great analysis as always. One slight error though: I'm pretty sure that FIFA stated that UEFA's allocation is capped at 16 and they will NOT send a team to the play-offs even when Europe is hosting.
    FIFA didn't say who would take their place, or even if this would mean only 5 teams going to the play-offs.
    I guess we'll find out in 2029 or 2033!

    1. Thanks for your nice words.

      The host slot is taken from the confederation allocation, so next time UEFA hosts only 15 spots will be available in the preliminaries, thus an UEFA team will go to the play-offs. Even if they win - they get at most 16.

    2. But if UEFA's play-off team win through, then Europe would have 17 teams at the finals i.e. hosts + 15 qualifiers + the play-off winner?

    3. Absolutely. Must have been too late for me to post a comment :) I haven't find the bit about UEFA being capped at 16 though.

  3. I hope 2026 will be the last World Cup with continental quotas and continental qualifiers. Only bureaucracy and corruption may posptone invention of Worldwide quaifilers by the start of new World Cups Century, no other reasons

    1. I'm looking forward Panama-Iran, Venezuela-Oman, Ecuador-Burkina Faso, and what promises to be the new classic of world football - Honduras-New Zealand.

      I watch all international football out there and if the World Cup were to include 104 teams, I would watch all the games. However, this is ridiculous. In 1982 - when the WC first expanded, we were told that this was to give more space to Africa and Asia. What have these two giant confederations since then? One spot in the 2002 semifinals thanks to three consecutive gifts to South Korea (if you don't know what happened to Byron Moreno - the Italy-South Korea referee - go check his page on Wikipedia). What bothers me the most is this ridiculous format in the first round.

      Worldwide qualifiers or UEFA out of FIFA, please.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. what about Switzerland X Oman, Russia X Senegal, Sweden X Jamaica... Eye cancer givers :)

  4. There is minor issue of time difference and jet lag []. Of course that is already problem for many SA players who play in European teams.

    Top players already have problems with fixture congestion. Global qualifier scheduler would make travel stress even worse for many players that would likely force them rest more games. (or teams would have to reduce number of games that is unlikely to happen)

  5. Hi, very interesting read. But I have a few questions.

    Would you mind explaining how you did the mock draw? It seems that you "helped" the odds a bit there to get where you got.

    And I think your pots look a little off, geographic diversity is usually the first priority.

    1. I've used FIFA ranking to create the pots. Of course, FIFA will most likely do things differently. On top of that I applied the "no two teams for the same confederation in the same group" rule.

  6. The italian media, together with the news about the new format for the World Cup, wrote also that Fifa ranking will be reformed. Any detail on this, they wrote only that only competitive match will count in the future (no friendlies) and it will be published every three months. They reported probably the details will be discussed in the next Fifa congress. Do you heard roumors about that?

    1. Only this comment in January. Probably it was you.

      I read something in Gazzetta dello Sport - an article from January.

    2. No, it wasn't my comment, but the same things I have read myself in Gazzetta and other media.. since only italian media reported this, I wonder if it is true or only speculations

    3. I wrote to Fabio Licari (the article's author) - he said Infantino wants these changes implemented (said so in a November interview for GdS) and FIFA are working on them, but it won't happen anytime soon, certainly not this year.

    4. I wrote that comment and I read recently the same basic ideas on few British media here and there. Some British commentators are actually implying that a reform of the FIFA rankings is a condition imposed by UEFA in order to accept the 48-team monster.

  7. hi. i wonder how you like my proposal of 8 groups of 6 teams but only 3 group matches for each team. this can be scheduled by having always 2 groups linked together and the three matches are played crossover.

    for example. A and B combined would result in the folowing matches.

    day 1: Brazil - Iran
    day 2: Denmark - Italy
    day 3: Egypt - Panama
    day 4: Iran - Denmark
    day 5: Italy - Egypt
    day 6: Panama - Brazil
    day 7 (simultaneuosly) : Brazil - Italy, Egypt - Iran, Denmark - Panama

    First 2 teams of each hex advance to the round of 16.


    1. good idea, but... no if we have 16 group. it will be 2months world cup :D in group stage 72 matches? summary 105. now 64