- Jason Davis

FIFA sources told the Associated Press today that the six member confederations will receive the same number of World Cup spots for 2014 as they did in 2010. That means no guaranteed fourth spot for CONCACAF, a possibility that has been making the rounds in recent days.

There are legitimate arguments for the region to receive a guaranteed fourth slot in the tournament, though few of them have to do with merit. CONCACAF remains a top heavy region with only a few nations capable of reaching the second round of the World Cup. The second tier countries appear to be improving, but with the relative quality in South America and Europe out pacing that of North America, retaining the status quo is hardly controversial.

The only change mentioned in the AP report is the possibility of a playoff draw, rather than the predetermined playoff match-ups used for 2010 qualification. Costa Rica, as the fourth place CONCACAF finisher, lost to Uruguay, the fifth place South American side. Oceania and Asia also have playoff positions.

The division of spots remains UEFA (13), Africa (5), South America (4.5, not including host Brazil), Asia (4.5), North America (3.5), and Oceania (.5).

FIFA will officially announce the World Cup place for 2014 later today. We'll leave open the possibility that the AP report is premature.

The lack of a fourth spot for CONCACAF means winning the group in the final round of the new qualifying setup is the only way to guarantee qualification for Brazil. Second place finishers will playoff for the third qualifying spot, with the loser moving on to a playoff with a country from another confederation.

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