Skip to content

It’s time FIFA reconsiders the Confederations Cup bid to the Oceania region

Jun 17, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT

FBL-WC2014-CONFED-TAH-NGR Getty Images

Everybody loves an underdog. Everybody enjoys rooting for those with the odds stacked against them. It makes for a great story, makes for great television, and makes for great sport.

Unless those underdogs get slaughtered. Over and over and over.

Since FIFA took over the King Fahd Cup and made it the Confederations Cup in 1997, it’s been about bringing the best from every region and pitting them against each other in a warmup tournament for the World Cup.

Obviously, some regions are typically much stronger than others. Europe has dominated world soccer for a long time, with both top teams and wonderful depth. But every now and then countries from other regions such as South America, Africa, and even North America have made noise on an international level, and even Asia has a touch of ability.

Underdogs such as Japan, Australia, and the United States have made noise in both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup, and that doesn’t even scratch the surface on Cinderella stories over the years.

Then there’s Oceania. The bid from the Oceania region to the Confederations Cup is a stretch, and one that does nobody any good.

After watching tiny little Tahiti get manhandled at the hands of Nigeria in their opening match of this year’s competition, I cringe at the thought of them facing Spain and Uruguay in the coming days. The African representatives “only” won 6-1, but it probably should have been about 12-1 had they been more focused.

It’s all well and good to give countries a chance to compete at the highest level, and by all accounts it’s probably their “right” to appear in the tournament like any other region. But do we really want to allow countries like Tahiti to appear in the competition just to watch them get embarrassed in front of a worldwide audience every four years? New Zealand may have half a chance to grab a point or two, but is thay enough to justify it?

The little Oceanic country had one aim coming into the competition: don’t concede a goal for a half. They even scored a goal against a Nigerian team clearly looking ahead to other matches, a beautiful moment no doubt. But European oddsmakers set the chances for the Iron Warriors of Tahiti to beat Nigeria at 500/1, and odds to win the competition at anywhere from 1000/1 to 10000/1.

Since the birth of the modern Confederations Cup in 1997, teams from the Oceania region have amassed a measly 11 points in group play over the 7 tournaments. 10 of those points were obtained by Australia, who have now left the Oceania region to play in Asia.

That leaves New Zealand with the only point by any country currently in the region. Thrice the Oceanic country was blanked in group play.

The countries currently forming the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) are: American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanutau. Kiribati, Niue, and Tuvalu aren’t even FIFA members. Only three of those countries have a population higher than 300,000 people.

Nigeria’s Nnamdi Oduamadi scored a hat-trick against Tahiti, the ninth hat-trick in Confederations Cup history. Five of those have come against Oceania opponents.

Only four times have a member of the OFC made it to the World Cup. The OFC are the only region which does not have a guaranteed World Cup spot – the top teams must compete in playoffs with other confederations for spots – so why are they guaranteed a spot in the Confederations Cup?

There are plenty of other ways to give out the spot in order to maintain an even eight members of the competition. The best idea I’ve been able to come up with is to give the spot to the highest-ranking country not already invited. The FIFA rankings are a bit arbitrary, but seeing as the competition is FIFA sanctioned, why not?

If FIFA is insistent on keeping the competition based on regional tournaments, they could just dub Europe as the dominant region and give it to the runners-up in the Euros. They could allow Oceania the ability to make the competition with a playoff against some other opponent, but it would probably be too much to expand a non-World Cup tournament into a “qualifier.”

Finally, there’s the option of just condensing Oceania into Asia either partially or altogether, but that would put a burden of high expense on small countries in Oceania to travel long distances on a regular basis, and it would obviously have widespread consequences on the Asian Cup, World Cup qualifiers, etc.

I understand it’s a world competition, and therefore the right of everyone to take place in the tournament. However, it must be earned to play at the highest level. Oceania flat out hasn’t proven they have the ability to have any chance of competing. And it’s not like they’d be completely eliminated from contention. Anyone in the world can qualify through either hosting the World Cup, or winning the Big One. Clearly almost impossible if not incredibly unlikely, but aren’t their chances of making any noise in the Confederations Cup pretty much the same?

I give the Tahiti players an immense amount of credit for their bravery in taking this opportunity with open arms, and I’m sure these matches mean the world to them. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the players.

However, it’s painful to watch these poor players play so hard and still get slaughtered. It’s a wonderful story for Tahiti to be in the competition, but it’s not fun to watch them get picked apart. They have one professional player, and it showed. It would make for much better competition and therefore a much better watch if the spot were given to a more deserving, worthy, and able opponent.

Latest Posts
  1. “Gutted” Toronto FC rues blowout loss to New England

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

    Doneil Henry Getty Images

    Not the expected sight: Jermaine Jones as the USMNT midfielder walking off the field with three points, not TFC’s Michael Bradley.

  2. WATCH: Louis van Gaal sees chances, wants Manchester United’s attack to convert them

    Aug 30, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT

    louis_van_gaal AP

    Red Devils’ boss was happy with the opportunities his team generated at Turf Moor.

  3. MLS Snapshot: Chicago Fire 1-0 FC Dallas

    Aug 30, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT

    robert_earnshaw AP

    A late goal from Robert Earnshaw snaps FCD’s unbeaten run.

  4. MLS Snapshot: Montréal Impact 2-0 Columbus Crew

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:52 PM EDT

    andres_romero AP

    Igancio Piatti’s first two goals give the Impact their second win in three games.

  5. Premier League Sunday Preview: Tottenham host Liverpool, Arsenal face Leicester

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:23 PM EDT

    Source: Mario Balotelli Source: Mario Balotelli

    Three superb games are coming your way on Sunday. Here’s a look at what to expect from all three.

  6. WATCH: Manuel Pellegrini keeps Manchester City’s upset loss in perspective

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT

    manuel_pellegrini Getty Images

    Defense was Pellegrini’s biggest concern after Saturday’s 1-0 loss.

  7. Revolution feeling a Jermaine Jones boost after unloading on Toronto

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:46 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 8.26.35 PM

    New England’s locker room was abuzz after the team thumped Toronto FC 3-0 in its own house… even before new boy Jermaine Jones subbed on.

  8. Reports: Julian Green to be loaned from Bayern Munich to Hamburg

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Belgium US AP

    HSV is close to landing the 19-year-old on a year-long loan.

  9. WATCH: Arlo White, Lee Dixon reflect on a nine-goal day at Goodison Park

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    tim_howard_diego_costa Getty Images

    NBC Sports was on hand for a memorable day in Liverpool, when Chelsea were pressed to preserve the team’s early lead.

  10. MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 0-3 New England Revolution

    Aug 30, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    lee_nguyen AP

    A disappointing performance from the Reds saw the Revolution back into the East’s top five.

  11. WATCH: Recapping the Premier League’s seven-match Saturday

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT

    diego_costa Getty Images

    Twenty-four goals across the day’s seven games made for a highlight-filled open to the Premier League’s weekend.

  12. MLS Snapshot: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Colorado Rapids

    Aug 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v Seattle Sounders Getty Images

    Clint Dempsey’s second half goal pushed Seattle five clear at the top of the standings.

  13. Xabi Alonso debuts as Bayern Munich held at Schalke

    Aug 30, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    xabi_alonso AP

    Second half goal from Benedikt Höwedes gave Schalke a point at home.

  14. Monk has Swansea unbeaten through three, but still eyeing safety first

    Aug 30, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    The young Swans manager is hoping to get “to the 40-point barrier as fast as possible” after the hot start.

  15. Premier League Saturday Roundup: Chelsea win classic; Stoke stun Man City

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT

    Costa scored twice, as USA's Howard let in six on Saturday. AP

    All the action from a sensational Saturday of Premier League action.

  16. Pellegrini questioned on Falcao to Man City rumors; Real Madrid lurks

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    Real Madrid could be the deepest attacking side in the world right now, and they just may get deeper.

  17. Everton 3-6 Chelsea: Blues prevail in sensational nine-goal thriller (video)

    Aug 30, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    One of the greatest games in Premier League history played out at Goodison. Relive it, here.

  18. WATCH: Juan Arango hammers one of the hardest strikes you’ll see

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Juan Arango AP

    The Tijuana midfielder absolutely smoked a goal home against Leones Negros on Friday night.

  19. Sam Allardyce slams officials after West Ham “taught a lesson” by Saints

    Aug 30, 2014, 1:14 PM EDT

    West Ham United v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Hammers boss laments poor decision but must look at his own teams shortcomings after poor display.

Featured video

Week 3: Saturday Premier League recap