Caribbean football-playing nations must unite and Trinidad and Tobago will be one of those countries at the forefront of ensuring that CONCACAF, the governing body for regional football, revisits its controversial new World Cup qualifying format.
“It is something that must come back to the table because it is really an issue as far as I’m concerned, and for the CFU (Caribbean Football Union) countries,” stated William Wallace, the recently-elected president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).
“That is a discussion that has to take place at the CONCACAF level and I think the CFU has to be strong in that discussion...being at the end of the day, (it is) CFU countries the ones that are most affected by this format.”
Wallace expressed this view on TV6’s Morning Edition programme, where he spoke to presenter/host Fazeer Mohammed, after returning from the World Club Championship in Doha, Qatar, where he met FIFA boss Gianni Infantino for the first time since becoming TTFA boss. Under the new format, only the six top world-ranked CONCACAF teams will battle for three automatic World Cup qualifying spots, while the majority 35 countries can at best only vie for a half spot to an Intercontinental play-off spot.
Critics have described CONCACAF’s new format as being designed to entrench the position of the region’s “big” football-playing nations, such as the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica, to the detriment of the majority.
Despite being its largest block, comprising 31 of 41 CONCACAF members nations, Wallace felt the CFU had been usurped in the new CONCACAF. For instance, there is no longer a Caribbean Cup, the event in effect replaced by the CONCACAF Nations League structure.
“I’m not seeing CFU,” Wallace declared. “I think the identity of the CFU has been subsumed in that there is no real voice in CFU.”
“Trinidad & Tobago (is) one of the leading members in the CFU. I think we have to take front in terms of that and start back a discussion, and bring back the CFU to life, within the embrace of CONCACAF.”
Wallace revealed that at a recent CONCACAF meeting there were informal discussions among nations about the new qualifying format and he gave the impression that many were not pleased. “Definitely it would not happen for this World Cup, but definitely going forward, it is something I think we need to take a look at,” Wallace declared.