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Corneal: Caribbean at disadvantage to qualify
Alvin Corneal, a former national player and coach, has welcomed the 2026 FIFA World Cup being held jointly by the United States, Mexico and Canada, but he believes there could be major challenges for T&T and the Caribbean during the qualification process.
Yesterday at the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, it was announced that the US bid received 134 of 200 votes cast, or 67 per cent, while Morocco tallied 65 votes (33 per cent) to effectively hand the new 48-team world cup to the Concacaf region. One member association voted not to choose either of the two bids.
Corneal, a FIFA analyst for many years said this new development would mean the remaining Caribbean and Concacaf countries will compete for just one spot which will be a tremendous disadvantage to T&T and other regional territories.
Corneal is suggesting that the FIFA should make two spots available for the Concacaf region which will give Caribbean teams a fighting chance of at least one. With Mexico, USA and Canada earning automatic entry into the world cup by virtue of being hosts, Concacaf big guns Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala or Panama could be well placed to take the lone qualifying berth.
Corneal also expressed concerns that visa issues with the United States in the past, may pose a major form of discomfort at the World Cup. “I know fans should be okay with entry into Mexico and Canada, but in the past there were major concerns for people gaining entry into the US because of visas,” Corneal told Guardian Media Sports.
The increase in the number of teams from 32 to 48 will make the staging of the 2026 world cup in three countries possible Corneal said, but he believes the possibility of serious challenges may exist due to the inexperience of the Concacaf teams in hosting world cups. Mexico staged the world cup twice in 1970 and 1986, while the US held its only world cup in 1994 which Brazil won.
David John-Williams, the T&T Football Association (TTFA) president, said it’s always good to see the World Cup in our Confederation.
According to the local football boss: “It is going to be an exciting World Cup played in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Obviously my concern is the fact that automatic places for these three countries could be a bit unfair unless properly discussed with other countries within the Confederation. That is something that needs to be addressed, needs to be talked about and needs to be ventilated properly.”
The three countries will bring the tournament to North America for the first time since 1994. Voters were persuaded by promises of record crowds, record revenues and, perhaps crucially, a record $11 billion in profit for FIFA, world football’s governing body.
The 2026 tournament will be the first time the World Cup is being hosted by three countries, and the first time it will comprise 48 teams. Most of the tournament will take place in the United States. Of the 80 matches, ten will be in Canada, ten in Mexico and 60 in the United States.
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