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Monday 18 June 2018
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TTFA worried over automatic spots

US, Mexico, Canada to host 2026 World Cup but…

TTFA president David John-Williams, right, shakes hands with FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the TTFA office.

TT Football Association president David John-Williams is happy but not ready to dance following the news that the 2026 World Cup will be played in CONCACAF. At the FIFA Congress yesterday, it was announced that the joint bid by USA, Canada and Mexico won the rights for the 2026 showpiece, where 48 teams will feature for the first time. The CONCACAF region has been awarded six and a half spots. It has not been determined whether all three host countries will get automatic berths.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said it is not guaranteed that Canada, Mexico and USA will get guaranteed berths, as discussions need to take place in the coming weeks and months.

TTFA president David John-Williams joined Infantino in expressing his concern for the qualifying spots allocated for this region.

“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,” John-Williams told TTFA media.

The US and Mexico are considered CONCACAF powerhouses but Canada have only played in a World Cup once and have struggled to even make the final round of qualifying.

Former TT World Cup footballer Anthony Wolfe has no problem, however, if Canada are given an automatic spot at the 2026 World Cup, saying TT must step up to the challenge and earn one of the next three and a half spots that may be available for the rest of the CONCACAF region.

“They lay it across the board that any country or nation hosting the World Cup will qualify automatically. Seeing that this never happen before – that three countries will be hosting the World Cup at the same time – I don’t see any problem in giving Canada a berth,” Wolfe said.

“I think the rest of the countries just have to fight up for the next three spots. Football is a battle...what is the joy of the game? Not everybody will be happy and not everyone can be happy in life at the same time.”

Wolfe added, “Canada, Mexico and USA will be joyful because they going through automatically, (but) the other nations have to fight up. This is football, football is a war.”

Wolfe’s 2006 World Cup teammate Cyd Gray also has no issues if Canada get a spot at the top football tournament, saying, “If the hosts normally get a spot, I think they (Canada) should be inside. If that is the rule, that’s the rule.”

Gray believes TT are in with a good chance of qualifying, but support must be given to the players. Gray said, “We must have belief in our team. No matter if it might be a difficult task (to qualify), you must have belief in our team. Once we do the right thing and support the players in the right way (we will qualify), because we have the talent here. Give them the top quality teams to play against, so they learn from their mistakes early so when it is time for qualification they could get it right.”

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