A CONCACAF World Cup?

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The FIFA consists of an assembly of Confederations encompassing member associations derived from nationality. There are 6 Confederations; CONCACAF, OFC, CAF, AFC, UEFA and CONMEBOL. CONCACAF, of which the Jamaica Football Federation ( JFF ) is apart, is the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Football Associations. Only ten (10) of the 41 member associations have ever been to the greatest sporting display on Earth. In those World Cup appearances, CONCACAF’s highest placing is third in the inaugural edition, by the United States. CONCACAF has reached the quarterfinals on five separate occassions, through Mexico (twice), Costa Rica and the United States (twice). Jamaica is the smallest nation to ever win a World Cup game, 2-1 versus Japan in 1998.

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CONCACAF’s highest FIFA World Ranking is 4th, achieved by Mexico (twice) in February 1998 and May -June of 2006, and the United States in April of 2006. Following those, is Costa Rica with a FIFA World Ranking high of 13th in February – March of 2015. Honduras placed 20th worldwide in September of 2001 and Jamaica’s highest ranking came as a result of the JFF’s 1998 World Cup campaign, seeing Jamaica being placed 27th in the world. On the flip side, CONCACAF’s women have been and continue to be at the very top of the world. Former world champion, the United States has headed the FIFA World Rankings and is currently World No. 2. Canada is close behind being 8th currently and having a 6th highest World Ranking. The United States is two-time FIFA Women’s World Champion, attained in 1991 and 1999. The US Women’s National Team is also 4-time Olympic Champion. Mia Hamm, former USWNT captain, circumstantial goalkeeper and forward was declared FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, the first two years that the award was given in 2001 and 2002. The FC Barcelona ambassador was listed among the 125 best living players of the game, chosen by Péle.

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The hosting potency of the Confederation has been tried, tested and proven. Though the Caribbean is yet to participate in the hosting of the FIFA World Cup, several Caribbean sovereignties, including the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have welcomed FIFA U-17 and FIFA U-20 World Cup competitors, whether it be for Qualifiers or the official tournament. Prior to Mexico’s 2011 FIFA U-17  World triumph, CONCACAF had not managed to pass the Round of 16 in the World Cup at that level. Both Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago have aspirations, along with Cuba and other Caribbean Football Associations, of employing the most professional and mountainous levels of hospitality to national representatives of the game at the senior level. Outgoing CONCACAF President, Jeffrey Webb along with former Confederation President Austin Jack Warner and Confederation Executive Chuck Blazer are among several FIFA delegates undergoing criminal investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI. The previously mentioned, all shared ambitions of enabling not only North and Central American Football Federations but also Caribbean Football Associations to have the unique opportunity of hosting a senior Men’s World Cup. Efforts to facilitate and realize such aspirations were also being aided by recently resigned FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Blatter has assisted the Confederation and it’s African counterpart in the sport’s development especially at the grassroots level during his tenure.

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Apart from an availability of internationally standardized stadia with which to conduct World Cup fixtures, attractions and areas for the teams to retreat, consistent performance on the international stage heavily dictates the frequency with which a Football Association or group of is considered as potential hosts. Nations fight for hosting rights simply because history has proven, with the exception of the most decorated winner Brazil, the host has a very high probability of being that edition’s eventual winner. The Confederation Cup, as the name suggests, is a knock-out tournament featuring the Champion Football Association of each Confederation. CONCACAF has gotten as far as second place when the United States’ Men’s National Team was defeated in the final in South Africa, 2009. Similar to CONCACAF’s World Cup situation, Mexico is alongside the United States at the top, finishing as Confederation’s Cup Champion as hosts, ten years prior. I perceive that CONCACAF’s Worldwide image must become much more attractive as that of it’s member associations’ football leagues and its Champions League. The Confederation through international and interclub competitions must be presented as a very viable source of income and patriotic passageway to the future stars of the beautiful game.

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A Brazilian was employed as head coach and/or technical director of the JFF’s 1998 FIFA World Cup campaign. When Trinidad & Tobago qualified for the World Cup in 2006, Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, was the man in charge. During Mexico’s explosion and rejuvenation on the FIFA stage, Mexicans were lead stewards similarly to the United States until recently where former German representative coach and player Jurgen Klinsman was given the top job. Klinsman, like Winfried Schaefer, who is Jamaica’s head coach relocated to their employer’s base of operations, as has become customary in the Asian and African Confederations. Each man has a sense of national pride despite employment status. That is not to suggest said professionals neglect his duties handed down by his employers for his native country’s success, only to mention that each one would love to see his country excel. With that being said, I believe the right native should bear the responsibility of seeing his delegation through the rounds and ranks of the most popular sport on the face of the globe. Outstanding achievements will be appreciated that much more when executed purely by natives of said nation.

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Football has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to unify supporters of varied heritage, class and creed. In Jamaica, during the World Cup Qualifiers and the group stages of Jamaica’s legendary World Cup appearance, the nation was huddled into a single unit monitoring the nation’s progress game by game. Football fans were born of the special era which saw televisions mounted on streets and corners of every district with fans glued, tuning in while working or enjoying dominoes among other past-times. It will be a while yet before the nation’s crime and oppresive woes are set aside under a common unifying factor such as that, but the Reggae Boyz are relentless. Another failed World Cup campaign is behind the Jamaica Football Federation. Nevertheless, under the new directorship, the JFF has been invited to participate in the 2015 Copa America which is a interconfederate competition between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF member associations. Competition standards such as these can usher the CONCACAF member association into uncharted football territory, maybe even resulting in more successful World Cup campaigns and displays. Consequently the FIFA World Cup trophy may even reside in a CONCACAF member associations’ head office for four years, instead of passing through on tour. Who knows?

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Written and Copyright by Javaughn O. Smith @ApplythePeppa 2013.

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