The current European Championship qualification structure must be reformed.
Should New Zealand follow the path of the Socceroos and remove themselves from Oceania or remain as its most competitive and highly-ranked nation?
New Zealand may be more content staying in the OFC with the expanded 2026 FIFA World Cup on the horizon, but perhaps New Zealand has more to gain if they were to change confederations altogether.
The OFC, the only associate confederation in FIFA that still doesn’t have an automatic qualification place for its members, unfortunately, wouldn’t benefit greatly if this was to happen, though.
With Australia already having successfully left the OFC, it would be another blow to the representative body that has yet to improve since then.
Australian football has made significant success since joining the AFC:
1) Creating the A-League, which has many club Oceanian champions and one Asian champion.
2) Hosting and winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
3) Improving the game overall in the country, which is now the largest participated sport in the country.
However, football in New Zealand is different from Australia’s in many ways. Firstly, New Zealand hasn’t got the population, size or popularity in football as Australia does.
Nor do they have the success of the Socceroos. However, perhaps the best argument to be made for a New Zealand exit of Oceania for Asia is the domestic club boost.
I think it would go without saying that New Zealand’s club football would benefit greatly moving to Asia from Oceania.
Domestically, New Zealand’s football league, while being the best in Oceania and has challenged many big clubs in the FIFA Club World Cup in the past, is still semi-professional.
That means clubs in the leagues of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are considered on par with the national first-division football league of New Zealand.
And, if, New Zealand were to join Asia, they would join the eastern region of the confederation. The same region Australia is situated in. New Zealand’s best teams would play the likes of Western Sydney Wanderers, Guangzhou Evergrande, Kashima Antlers and Urawa Red Diamonds just to name a few.
But, with the likely possibility that the All Whites will gain automatic qualification to the 2026 FIFA World Cup and beyond, will it be a viable option to help stimulate the growing game or is it too late for any exciting resolutions?