Africa to Get Two More FIFA World Cup Spots
The FIFA president Gianni Infantino has confirmed he will propose two more teams to come from Africa as the FIFA plans to expand World Cup participation from 32 teams to 40. On his recent trip to Nigeria, Infantino said, “I believe for the World Cup 2026 there should be 40 teams. And out of the eight more, there should be at least two slots for African teams,” Africa has five only slots at the world cup which has been seen by many as an imbalance. Even worse, Africa had only three teams before 1998.
Just like his predecessor, the Swiss also advocated for increasing the number of teams in his campaign as he ran for president. He went on to say “This is what I declared during my campaign and as you know I’m not a dictator but a democratically elected FIFA president, so I have to speak to everyone and listen to everyone as well.”
He was visiting Nigeria with the new FIFA General Secretary, the Senegalese Fatma Samoura, where they met Presidents from 18 African Football Associations.
This change comes with great and extensive criticism with many saying it would diminish the quality of the competition basing on the fact that no African team has reached the tournament’s semi-final. Infantino defended the decision saying, “It will be great for the World Cup regarding 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… look at the last World Cup – England and Italy were kicked out by Costa Rica. This is football,” the FIFA president said. “
The former FIFA President Sepp Blatter also supported the decision saying the World Cup is “not based on the quality of the teams because you don’t have the best 32 at the World Cup. But it’s a good compromise…It’s a political matter so why not have more Africans? The competition is to bring all the people of all the world. If you don’t give the possibility to participate, they don’t improve.”
Infantino now heads to England this weekend to take part in their 50th year anniversary of winning the World Cup.
Featured Photo: FIFA President Mr. Gianni Infantino meeting Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (Image: Reuters)