Today or yesterday, FIFA uploaded a circular (PDF) with the details of the slot allocations per confederation for the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the 2014 Under-17 Women’s World Cup, and the 2014 Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
As the 2015 WWC will be the first with 24 teams, up from 16 teams, that allocation decision was of extra interest. CONCACAF had the biggest relative gain, going from 2.5 slots up to 4.5 slots (including host Canada), which means that the USA should have a lot less trouble qualifying this time around.
In addition to the slot allocations, the approximate dates of the tournaments were also decided:
- 2014 U-17 WWC (Costa Rica): April 2014
- 2014 U-20 WWC (Canada): Mid-July to Mid-August 2014
- 2015 WWC (Canada): June/July 2015
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2015 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
As mentioned earlier, this Women’s World Cup will be the first with 24 teams. If this tournament follows the structure of other current 24-team FIFA tournaments, then there will be six round-robin groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group, along with the top four overall third place teams advancing to the first knock-out round of sixteen teams. Essentially, the format is the women’s Olympic soccer tournament, but doubled.
Slot Allocation (change from 2011):
AFC (Asia): 5 (+2)
CAF (Africa): 3 (+1)
CONCACAF (North America): 3.5 + Host [Canada] (+2)
CONMEBOL (South America): 2.5 (+.5)
OFC (Oceania): 1 (no change)
UEFA (Europe): 8 (+2.5)
CONCACAF could potentially have five teams in Canada. Outside of the host, the USA and Mexico should be locks, with the final two slots going to the likes of Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala, and Haiti. However, the last team to qualify from CONCACAF will have to face the third team from CONMEBOL, which would probably be either Argentina or Colombia, in a home-and-away playoff (cf. USA-Italy in 2010).
For Asia (AFC), this means that Japan, Australia, China, and South Korea should be among the five qualifying countries. With North Korea being banned from this tournament, that opens the door for the final slot probably going to Thailand or Vietnam.
Europe (UEFA) only gains 2.5 slots from 2011, as they had the host (Germany) slot and 4.5 open slots. Five of the eight slots will probably be filled by Germany, Sweden, France, England, and Italy. The remaining slots will likely go to three of the following: Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland, Spain, and Russia.
Concerning CONMEBOL, Brazil is the only team that is essentially guaranteed to qualify, with Colombia and Argentina being the most likely candidates to come in second and third. Whoever finishes third will have to earn their way to Canada by defeating the final CONCACAF team in a home-and-away playoff.
The Oceania slot is New Zealand’s to lose. Africa is more of a toss up, due to the format of their qualification process.
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2014 U-20 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
This tournament, like the 2015 WWC, will be hosted by Canada. Unlike the 2015 WWC, the field of teams will remain at 16 teams.
AFC (Asia): 3
CAF (Africa): 2
CONCACAF (North America): 3 + Host [Canada]
CONMEBOL (South America): 2
OFC (Oceania): 1
UEFA (Europe): 4
The only change in the allocation is that Asia loses the host slot, which is gained by CONCACAF. This means, that in addition to host Canada, the United States and Mexico are safe bets to qualify, with the final slot probably going to either Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, or Costa Rica.
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2014 U-17 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
The U-17 WWC will also be hosted by a CONCACAF federation, Costa Rica. But, this time the confederation, in a repeat of 2010, will only have two open slots. At least one of the big three in CONCACAF — Mexico, Canada, and the United States — will not qualify for the tournament.
AFC (Asia): 3
CAF (Africa): 3
CONCACAF (North America): 2 + Host [Costa Rica]
CONMEBOL (South America): 3
OFC (Oceania): 1
UEFA (Europe): 3
The only change from this year’s tournament is that the host slot was transferred from UEFA to CONCACAF.