The qualification pathway for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in North, Central America and the Caribbean will take shape later this month following FIFA's confirmation this week that the Concacaf preliminary draw will be held on Wednesday 19 at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland.
With 35 member associations from across North, Central America and the Caribbean set to be involved, the preliminary draw is a significant moment that will determine the tournament pathway for the first and final rounds under the new qualification format.
Based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking as of 16 July 2020, the draw for the first round will allocate the 30 lowest-ranked Concacaf teams to six groups.
This will be followed by the draw for the final round, which will indicate the position of each team within the final qualification stage, which will also be contested in a group format.
The six highest-ranked teams in the first round - El Salvador, Canada, Curaçao, Panama, Haiti, and T&T - will be pre-seeded into groups A to F respectively.
The first round will be played in a single round-robin format, meaning each team will play four matches: two home and two away.
During the second round, the six group winners will face off in a home-and-away elimination format in three predetermined pairings. The winners of each tie will proceed to the final round.
The final round will see the three winners from the second round join the five highest-ranked Concacaf teams according to the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking as of 16 July 2020, which will play each other in a home-and-away round-robin format.
Fans around the world will be able to follow the draw live on FIFA.com, with the exception of the territories where the draw will be broadcast live on TV.
Meanwhile, High Court Judge Carol Gobin will decide on Thursday whether the T&T Football Association's decision to challenge FIFA's appointment of a Normalisation Committee to govern the affairs of local football will be done here in the T&T courts, or if it will revert to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland.
In the initial hearing on July 29 at the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, the court heard submissions from both sides, before adjourning to today. TTFA president William Wallace said after the hearing that his team was still open to negotiation.
On July 15, FIFA lawyers told the T&T courts that: “The removal of the Normalization Committee before appropriate controls, policies, and procedures are in place at the TTFA will not only jeopardise the achievements to date and reintroduce the threats to the solvency of the TTFA, but it will be a disincentive to FIFA to provide any further funding to the TTFA given the absence of appropriate controls.”
In March the FIFA, the sport's supreme body, took the decision to appoint the committee only three months after the Wallace-led team assumed office, citing management flaws which placed the association on the brink of insolvency, coupled with crippling debt that the association had to way of clearing.
The TTFA followed procedure by taking their matter to the CAS before making a round about turn, citing institutional bias
The pots for the first-round draw are as follows:
Pot 1: El Salvador, Canada, Curaçao, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago.
Pot 2: Antigua and Barbuda, Guatemala, St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Pot 3: Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bermuda, Belize
Pot 4: St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Montserrat, Dominica, Cayman Islands
Pot 5: Bahamas, Aruba, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla
The pots for the final-round draw are as follows:
Pot A: Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras, winner of A vs F, winner of B vs E, winner of C vs D
Pot B: teams 1-8.