What is your ideal World Cup format? (PART 2)

Discussion in 'FIFA and Tournaments' started by Every Four Years, Jun 28, 2022.

  1. Every Four Years

    May 16, 2015
    Miramar, Florida
    Nat'l Team:
    India
    #1 Every Four Years, Jun 28, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022
    I rediscovered this old thread from the buildup to the 2018 World Cup recently through some random searches of the archives.

    Below is OP's thread starter, which has some interesting ideas and beginning points for this discussion, some of which makes a lot of sense to me, and some of which I don't fully concur with or deem necessary.

    My own criterion for an "ideal World Cup format" I think largely align with the first two criteria mentioned here by OP. Logistics (as discussed in criteria 3 and 4 above) is a subject that I cannot comment on very well, as I have never attended live a World Cup match myself (certainly hope to in the future!).

    However, the two criteria in bold are considerations that I very much share and wish FIFA would prioritize.

    1) Determining the best team in the world by a method which minimizes the role of luck as much as possible
    2) Providing as many interesting matches as possible

    Keeping these things in mind, my own proposal is as follows:

    A 24-team World Cup, with the field divided into 4 round-robin groups of 6 teams each. Upon the conclusion of the group stage, the top 2 teams in each group advance to the quarterfinals.

    Slots would be allocated as follows:

    UEFA: 10 + 2 playoff
    CONMEBOL: 3 + 1 playoff
    CAF: 3 + 1 playoff
    CONCACAF: 2 + 1 playoff
    AFC/OFC: 2 + 2 playoff (OFC winner goes to AFC final round)
    1 extra playoff spot for host confed to compensate for host slot being taken out of confed allocation

    The main qualifying process would thus produce 20 out of the 24 qualifiers. The 8 playoff teams would then be drawn into 4 two-legged ties based on FIFA rankings, with teams from the same confederation separated. This would then produce the final four qualifiers.

    Each confed can thus get up to a max of one less team than they currently have in the 32-team format (or the same as they currently have on the occasion when they are the host confederation). This format would thus also hopefully help us all in our incessant debates on the merits of various confeds :p.

    With fewer spots available, maintaining the current qualifying formats where San Marino is in a group with England would obviously make no sense. This is where I think the Nations League could help, perhaps serving as a preliminary round (e.g. in UEFA perhaps the teams in League D for that season would be ineligible to qualify for the applicable WC). As a result of this forced change hopefully this would also mean more meaningful qualifying games and a fairer process for the big guns as well. Another added benefit of this format :).

    The pros of this format are as follows:

    1) Every qualified team gets 2 extra games guaranteed compared to now (5).
    2) 8 fewer knockout games means fewer penalty shootouts.
    3) A longer group stage is more likely to place the best 8 teams (or something close to it) in the quarterfinals, thus it is "fairer" in that sense and minimizes the role of luck. Will also thus reduce randomness and oddness of knockout brackets.
    4) Only one extra game compared to the current (and 2026) formats (and tbh few would complain if the third-place game was axed, in which case it would only be the final)
    5) More big matchups in the group stage due to the condensed field and small number of groups - and with less on the line, thus allowing for more open football.

    Cons:
    1) Obviously, fewer teams get the opportunity of playing in a World Cup. For some people this is probably not too much of a con though.
    2) The group stage might drag on a little bit, and the short knockout stage afterwards might also feel a little anti-climactic as a result
    3) Those who like upsets and the randomness of the bracket may not enjoy things as much, even if this format is fairer. Overall I think this is a pro and not a con, but some will disagree so I am considering it here.
    4) Potential for an excessive amount of dead rubber games (although I feel like the WC still elevates the importance of the matches so teams will probably still take the games fairly seriously)

    Overall, the pros to me with the reduced knockout games and increased quality on display (despite the dead rubbers), and a more fully fleshed-out if somewhat dragged out group stage, outweigh the issues some might have with the smaller field and dead rubbers.

    What do you think? An unnecessary change to a great format (probably better than the expansion at least though haha)? Or is it something you'd be open to? Is there another alternate format you would like to propose?
     
  2. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    To me, the best format is never one that relies on quotas, allocations and such. The overriding principal to me starts with rejecting these anachronistic concepts, instead moving towards minimum guaranteed spots and -- beyond that -- no floor or ceiling on how many sides can qualify from any region. If this is accepted, the rest will work out as the dynamics will require more and more intercontinental qualifiers. And that is not only more fair, it is what in the long run helps the most elevating the game world wide while featuring the most deserving sides at the World Cup. The number 32 happened to be a very good number for the final tournament but I suppose I can get used to 48 in due course
     
  3. BocaFan

    BocaFan Member+

    Aug 18, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Sounds inclusive and good to say "no ceiling" but the devil is in the details. Correct me if I'm wrong but the only way to do that is to not group teams by confederation in the first place. At that point the logistics become difficult and you end up compromising on number of games in qualifying, having games in neutral venues, etc. Thus, sacrificing points #1 and 4 above.
     
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  4. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    I can come up with the details, but they may not be to your liking. But if I was the person who could decide these all on my own, this is what I would start the process of having more and more intercontinental playoffs and groups until we reach the point I have in mind. Initially:
    1. The first step to me would be a merger between Conmebol and Concacaf. The combo would get 3 guaranteed plus 16 R2 playoff/IC teams.
    2. AFC+OFC (3) and CAF (3) would each get 3 guaranteed plus 16 R1 playoff teams each. The 16 R1 PO winners would qualify to R2.
    3. UEFA would get 4 guaranteed plus 16 playoff teams for R2.
    4. 12 teams (R2 group winners) would qualify among 48 R2 teams grouped (12 groups) and seeded based on their rankings only.
    5. 6 teams would qualify from R3 playoffs between R2 group runner ups.
    Eventually, with a global NL also helping to increase intercontinental matches, the FIFA rankings should become reliable enough for all these playoff allocations to be based on such rankings. Put differently, at some point in the future, the objective would be to give each confederation a number of playoff allocations equal to the number of teams from that confederation among the top 50. If UEFA had 20 such teams, for example, it would get 20-4=16 PO/IC teams. If Conmebol+Concacaf had 16 such teams, they would get 16-3=13 PO/IC teams. AFC/OFC+CAF the same: if they have together 16 teams, they would get 16-3-3=10 PO/IC teams for R2.
     
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  5. Every Four Years

    May 16, 2015
    Miramar, Florida
    Nat'l Team:
    India
    Interesting, although seems like a lot of logistical headache to ultimately get to most likely a pretty similar outcome to what I suggested, all said and done (I would predict maybe 16 or 17 UEFA teams out of 32 in your proposal compared to up to 12 out of 24 in my own). In this vein agree with the comments made above by @BocaFan

    My own proposal was meant to keep things relatively simple and be workable with minimal modifications to the current system while still working to increase intercontinental play and slowly move away from using arbitrary geographical criteria to determine WC participants. In that sense my proposal aligns with some of your aims but not in the degree of its ambition.

    Nonetheless, yours is also a fascinating idea. Would each R2 group be hosted by one of the group members or at a neutral site?
     
  6. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    Thanks but: I fundamentally oppose quotas derived from prejudging results based on hunches and perceptions and, in any case, believe strongly in the need and benefits of increasing (not decreasing) intercontinental matches.

    As for the R2 hosts, I could be persuaded either way.
     
  7. Every Four Years

    May 16, 2015
    Miramar, Florida
    Nat'l Team:
    India
    #7 Every Four Years, Jun 29, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
    I just remembered my other question. How would you determine the 3 or 4 teams from each confed that would qualify automatically? I presume you can't have a long qualifying process like we do now just to determine a small percentage of WC slots, and then also have your R2 playoff.

    Perhaps the regional nations league could be used to determine the automatic and playoff slots?

    So perhaps for this year's World Cup, France, Spain, Italy, and Belgium would have qualified (Italian fans might have appreciated this format haha) automatically.
    Then the 16 IC playoff slots could be decided by internal playoffs whose participants would be selected based on the NL standings.

    The only problem with this is it could lead to some somewhat random outcomes for those guaranteed slots, e.g. Honduras would have qualified this time around if this system was used, which, considering how they did in the CONCACAF Octo, hardly seems an optimal outcome. At the same time going through 10 matchdays to only auto-qualify 4 teams at the end also seems quite tedious and unnecessary. It would greatly enhance the status of the NL though, and I would guess that the randomness could be reduced by the big guns taking the NL more seriously with more on the line.

    Lol now I unironically sort of want to draw up a detailed plan for how qualifying would work for your proposal haha.

    For R2, what I would propose is a double round-robin, with the top seed hosting half the games and the second seed hosting the other half. If one of the top seeds can't or won't host for whatever reason, then one of the lower seeds can host. I would condense the October and November windows so that teams play three matches each month (with longer windows to fit the extra game), and scrap the September window which no one likes anyway given that the European club season has just begun at that time. Teams would travel to the first site in October of the year WC -1, play the first three games, and to the second site in November year WC -1 to play the remaining three games.

    I might also scrap the off-season June window and extend the March window so that all 4 games are played then (keeping the yearly 10 international matchdays the same).

    The internal playoffs, R1 of the intercontinental playoffs, etc. would have to have been completed between October of the prior year and June of the current one. Assuming every confed has implemented a regional NL by now (4 NLs with CONCACAF/CONMEBOL, AFC(/OFC), CAF, and UEFA), the NL would be played in October and November of year WC -2, and the internal playoffs would be played in March and June of year WC -1. I don't know when there would be time for a R1 IC playoff round though between AFC/OFC and CAF. I think it would be better to allocate 16 to CONCACAF/CONMEBOL, 16 to UEFA, 8 to CAF, and 8 to AFC/OFC, avoiding the need for a further IC playoff round (if you want you could maybe give CAF 9 and AFC/OFC 7).

    Then after the R2 group stage, you could play the R2 playoffs between the group runners-up in March of the World Cup year. Then the WC draw would either have to be in March right after the R2 playoffs or the 6 R2 playoff teams would be Pot 4 by default so you can have the draw in November of year WC -1.
     
  8. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    The way do it is to have 1 single continental championship for each confederation (combined confederation for Conmebol/Concacaf and AFC/OFC) played roughly the same time 2 years before the World Cup. The EURO semifinalists, the 1-3 finishers in Copa America (combined confeds), etc would be the guaranteed allocations. The rest (playoff teams) would emerge from World Cup qualifying groups in each region.
     
  9. Every Four Years

    May 16, 2015
    Miramar, Florida
    Nat'l Team:
    India
    #9 Every Four Years, Jun 29, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
    I guess using the confed championship is not much worse than using Nations League. For the intra-confed qualifiers, I just think it's a little bit much to ask a team like Ukraine to play 10 qualifying games in a UEFA qualifying group just to have to play another three (possibly four or five) IC games even if they finish first above Germany. Seems needlessly tedious. I would rather play more games (as I suggested, 6-7/8 over two months + March for group runners-up vs 3-4/5 at once) in the IC round which actually decides the WC slots directly, and shorten the main intra-confed WC qualifying round down to maybe 6 matchdays to get it over with quickly. For example, in UEFA you could maybe have 14 groups of 4 (some three-team groups because there would be only 51 teams), advancing the group winners plus two additional teams among the NL group winners.

    Since the decisive portion is the interconfed round, that should be the meatier portion of the qualifiers (it's not possible at the finals of course, but I do think we should abide by this principle for the qualifiers). It's more important to get the best teams out of the IC round into the WC finals than it is to get the best teams in the intraconfed qualifiers into the IC round. Best to maximize bang for buck with these things and not have teams expend expansive efforts just for playoff slots. Anyone who doesn't snatch one of 16 IC playoff slots probably wouldn't be missed anyway.

    And yes, I do realize that this directly contradicts my statements and proposals about the WC finals itself :). In that case though my dislike for knockout games overrides the anti-climactic nature of a long group stage, and you are still going through to the quarterfinals so there's a decent reward at the end.

    Sorry if it seems like I'm nitpicking your proposal! My intention is only to bolster it and think about how to practically implement it, not to bring it down.
     
  10. mfw13

    mfw13 Member+

    Jul 19, 2003
    Seattle
    Club:
    Newcastle United FC
    With all due respect, a global Nations League simply is not feasible logistically, for the simply reasons that the distances and flying times between most continents is too long.

    Likewise, there is very little worldwide interest in watching lower ranked teams play each other. Or to put it another way, nobody is going to want to watch Ethiopia play El Salvador, or Bolivia play Bangladesh....
     
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  11. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member+

    Apr 6, 2006
    #11 vancity eagle, Jun 29, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2022
    The distance between South America and Europe is massive yet they are planning to make it work.

    Also with respect to Ethiopia vs El Salvador. We already have League C and D in Europe which is MUCH LESS interesting with matches like Latvia vs Moldova. I'd watch Ethiopia vs El Salvador any day over the dross in the Lower Uefa leagues.

    If it can work with UEFA and Conmebol, it can work globally.

    Any attempt to dismiss this frankly just comes across as pretentious snobbery from Uefa and conmebol.
     
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  12. almango

    almango Member+

    Sydney FC
    Australia
    Nov 29, 2004
    Bulli, Australia
    Club:
    Sydney FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Australia
    I think it can work but probably limited to 64 teams in 4 divisions. Levels lower than this could stick to regional competitions. I must admit I'm still not sold on a world wide nations league and am reasonably happy with the current setup of Confederation Championships and World Cups.
     
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  13. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    That would be fine..
    Why? We really don't get enough meaningful games between teams from different confederations. One every 4 years isn't enough. The Confederations Cup, even when it was up and running, gave 1-2 teams a few more games.
     
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  14. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    I am wary of how much respect you feel is "due", but you give examples which are neither necessary for a global NL (see above post re 64 teams in 8 divisions by @almango) nor unusual for any lower division league anyway (see @vancity eagle's post).
     
  15. DrScorpio

    DrScorpio Member

    San Lorenzo
    Argentina
    Jan 6, 2022
    Conmebol is giving up playing at home to do that, in part cause most of our players play there. A global NT is a logistical nightmare unfortunately.
    To be clear I'm not against it or something, and to be honest I don't like the NT, it's just a UEFA excuse to prevent players to travel outside Europe.
     
  16. almango

    almango Member+

    Sydney FC
    Australia
    Nov 29, 2004
    Bulli, Australia
    Club:
    Sydney FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Australia
    Maybe if one gets up and running I would see the benefits and be more enthusiastic. Thinking about the start of one maybe something like this

    Div 1
    UEFA 8 teams
    Conmebol 4 teams
    CAF 2 teams
    AFC 1 team
    CONCACAF 1 team

    Div 2
    UEFA 8 teams
    Conmebol 2 teams
    CAF 2 teams
    AFC 2 teams
    CONCACAF 2 teams

    Div 3
    UEFA 6 teams
    Conmebol 2 teams
    CAF 3 teams
    AFC 2 teams
    CONCACAF 1 team
    OFC 1 team

    Div 4
    UEFA 5 teams
    Conmebol 1 team
    CAF 3 teams
    AFC 3 teams
    CONCACF 3 teams
    OFC 1 team

    4 groups of 4 in each division. Group winners play a final series in each division. Group losers relegated group winners promoted. Relegated teams from div 4 replaced by teams from their own region? (not 100% sold on this. Maybe need more turnover or a mini tournament to decide who goes in with teams from each confederation competing).

    Nations league format is probably a bit off topic from world cup format but maybe this thread could expand to talk about international football in general.
     
  17. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    #17 Iranian Monitor, Jun 30, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2022
    I would be fine/prefer we simply used FIFA rankings for the first edition, with relegation/promotion for future editions. That could leave no AFC/CAF sides in division 1 at first, unless they got promoted.
     
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  18. Iranian Monitor

    Iranian Monitor Member+

    Aug 18, 2004
    Nat'l Team:
    Iran
    FIFA's rankings could/will change substantially once we have had the World Cup. Maybe some CAF or AFC teams by then will break into the top 16, but to illustrate how it would work using current FIFA rankings:

    DIVISION 1
    1- Brazil 2- Belgium 3- Argentina 4- France 5- England 6- Spain 7- Italy 8- Netherlands 9- Portugal 10- Denmark 11- Germany 12- Mexico 13- Uruguay 14- USA 15- Croatia 16- Switzerland
    DIVISION 2
    17- Colombia 18- Senegal 19- Wales 20- Sweden 21- Peru 22- Morocco 23- Iran 24- Japan 25- Serbia 26- Poland 27- Ukraine 28- Korea Rep 29- Chile 30- Tunisia 31- Nigeria 32- Czech Republic
    DIVISION 3
    ...
     
  19. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member+

    Apr 6, 2006
    All the top teams from Africa are almost entirely euro based.

    Senegal, Algeria, Ivory Coast could play home matches in France.

    Nigeria, Ghana in England.

    Countries from other confeds would have to adopt a home nation.

    US in England etc.

    I would even include North Africa and other countries at close proximity to Europe as possible home fields.

    It wouldn't be that hard to organize at all.
     
  20. almango

    almango Member+

    Sydney FC
    Australia
    Nov 29, 2004
    Bulli, Australia
    Club:
    Sydney FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Australia
    Between 2003 and 2013 we played 13 friendlies in England against teams from different continents. Jamaica twice, South Africa twice, Norway, New Zealand, Ghana, Denmark, Nigeria, Canada and Equador. It's one way of doing it depending on who ends up in what group.
     
  21. vancity eagle

    vancity eagle Member+

    Apr 6, 2006
    Yes I would assume Australia would use England as a home field.

    The only problem would arise if England were ever in the same group, then you could have whatever team choose a different home field for that particular match.
     
  22. mfw13

    mfw13 Member+

    Jul 19, 2003
    Seattle
    Club:
    Newcastle United FC
    Yes....they're making it work by playing all the games in Europe. CONMEBOL will not be hosting ANY games.

    And that only works because most of the best players from CONMEBOL play for European club teams....that's not the case with other federations, where most players play in their domestic leagues.
     
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  23. r0adrunner

    r0adrunner Member+

    Jun 4, 2011
    London, UK
    Club:
    AS Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    #23 r0adrunner, Jul 3, 2022
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2022
    A slight digression from this thread, to which I will return, but while there might not be large global interest in matches between NTs outside the elite, you can still fill stadiums and attract large TV audiences because countries which are trying to develop are sometimes very large and/or have significant diaspora.

    I have seen this myself at the recent Finalissima at Wembley and have seen videos this year of people celebrating relatively minor achievements by their NTs and youth NTs. The success of the UEFA Europa and Conference Leagues also show the appetite of fans to watch their teams play major competitions, even if they are not the most prestigious.

    A GNL is feasible under FIFA's auspices, but it can only be for the final tournament(s). Therefore it would be feasible for each confederation to run its own NL and for them to act as preliminaries for FIFA's NL concluding in June of each odd year.

    As I said in the other thread, FIFA and the confederations are considering this following the decision in February to drop the biennial WC proposal.
     
  24. r0adrunner

    r0adrunner Member+

    Jun 4, 2011
    London, UK
    Club:
    AS Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    I think that set up needs adapting because too many countries are playing too many friendlies instead of competitive games.

    I would like to see a situation where every country started every calendar year with a new objective, like clubs do. The cycle could look like this:

    - start of 2024: to qualify for the FIFA NL finals;
    - 2025: to qualify for the WC;
    - 2026: to qualify for the FIFA NL finals;
    - 2027: to qualify for the continental championship.

    Repeat for the next cycles.
     
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  25. r0adrunner

    r0adrunner Member+

    Jun 4, 2011
    London, UK
    Club:
    AS Roma
    Nat'l Team:
    Italy
    When it comes to the final competition of the WC and continental championships:

    - based on a 48-team WC (which will be used in 2026 and 2030 because the vote for the latter will be in 2024) I would use one of the formats below:

    a) 16 groups of 3 teams, with each team in group A playing each team in group B once (3 GS matches per team), same for groups C and D etc., with the 16 group winners qualifying for the knockout stage which would commence - as now - with a Round of 16; or

    b) 8 groups of 6 teams, with each team playing 3 matches against 3 of the other 5 teams in its group (Swiss model), with the top 2 teams in each group qualifying for the knockout stage which would commence - as now - with a Round of 16.

    Since the WC will remain a quadrennial event for the forseeable future, I think it is essential that each team which qualifies should play a minimum of 3 matches and the two formats above eliminate the problems of collusion and one team resting each matchday which exist at the moment.

    - if they are to be expanded, continental championships should skip 24-team formats in favour of 32-team formats. There is no difference in the duration of the competition and the number of matches the two finalists must play (7), 32-team formats are much more satisfactory (8 groups of 4 teams with the top 2 teams qualifying for the knockout stage) and more lucrative.
     

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