FIFA President Infantino Wants More African WC Spots

By Peter Pedroncelli Published: April 18, 2016, 5:52 am
FIFA President InfantinoFIFA President Gianni Infantino - uefa.org

New FIFA president Gianni Infantino has suggested that Africa should receive two more World Cup qualification spots if his plan to expand the flagship competition from 32 to 40 teams is successful.

Swiss UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino was elected as the new FIFA president at the end of February, and began working for world football’s governing body with immediate effect.

The election ended in a race between Infantino and Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, but the Swiss was the victor in the second round of voting with 115 of the 207 votes from FIFA’s national associations, defeating Salman, who had 88.

Infantino has proposed to expand the World Cup to 40 teams, freeing up an additional eight places for qualification, which would translate to two more places for Africa.

At the moment Africa is allotted only five qualification spots, with 54 nations fighting for a place at the World Cup. This makes it very difficult for most teams in Africa to ever get a taste of the tournament. Infantino’s plan would provide two additional places for the continent.

FIFA president explains

Many critics have been vocal about the fact that an increase to 40 teams would diminish the quality of the teams at the competition, but Infantino believes that the gains in popularity outweighs any concerns regarding the overall standard of play.

“It will be great for the World Cup in terms of popularity because you will have more nations involved in the World Cup,” Infantino told Fox Sports. “There is enough quality … we see it in Europe. [And] look at the last World Cup – England and Italy were kicked out by Costa Rica. This is football,” the FIFA president said.

“There would be of course more spots for everyone. For example, two more Africans, one-and-a-half in CONCACAF, half in South America, half in Oceania, one-and-a-half in Asia, we arrive at 39,” he explained.

“And the last spot should be played on the pitch somehow; let’s see how by the one who will deserve it in the best possible way,” he added.

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