Former Boyz Opposed On FIFA Plans
The Reggae Boyz' 1998 World Cup goalkeepers, captain Warren Barrett and his number two, Aaron 'Wildboy' Lawrence, have contrasting views on the proposal by FIFA to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams.
Barrett says that many would welcome the change, but he does not see the reason to increase the numbers: "I think that is watering it down a bit. For the World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in the world, teams need to work hard to get there. It should not be watered down to accommodate or commercialise the sport. I would rather it stayed at 32," he said.
"If they are increasing it and the format remains the same, maybe I would support it. If you are going to have that knockout stage, I won't agree with that. If teams are going to play one game and get knocked out and go home, it makes no sense. For the group stage, you have at least three games, so you get a chance to make it to the knockout round. I would stick with that format," he added.
Barrett's number two during the '98 campaign, Lawrence, holds a contrasting opinion as he believes that it would be good for developing football countries and aspiring players from these countries.
"I would be for it. I don't think it will water it down because you would give more countries a chance to showcase themselves. You have countries with good talent and ability, and they never got a chance based on how difficult it is in their region. So you will see more football, and more countries will get an opportunity to show their skills on the big stage," he said.
However, both agree that merging the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL confederations' World Cup qualifiers would be detrimental to Caribbean teams.
"It will be more challenging for the Caribbean teams. Teams like Costa Rica, Mexico, and the US might not mind, but for smaller nations like us, Trinidad, Haiti, Cuba, and the top teams in the Caribbean, will find it a lot more difficult to qualify. I certainly wouldn't welcome that change," he said.
While Lawrence stated: "I am not for that (merging the qualifiers), the (present) play-offs where we are at we will have more chances of going through, and they (CONMEBOL) will probably have more teams from that side than our side, so I am not supporting that one."