Switzerland: Africa gets 9 slots under FIFA's new 48-team World Cup

Zurich, Switzerland (PANA) - Africa will get 9 World Cup slots when FIFA's new 48-team tournament becomes effective in 2026.

According to FIFA's media outlet, "Under Gianni Infantino’s plan, Europe has got what it requested with its quota being increased by three places to 16 while the recommendation is for nine slots for Africa (up from five), eight for Asia (up from 4.5), six for South America (up from 4.5), six for North and Central America and the Caribbean (up from 3.5) and one  full place for Oceania.

The proposal, agreed at a meeting of the FIFA Bureau comprising Infantino and the heads of all six confederations, this will still be confirmed by the FIFA Council in May.

The new format, which will feature 16 groups of three teams, replaces a system that has been unchanged since 1998.  

It said that the host country will still qualify automatically, with their place being taken out of the quota of their confederation. That could prove highly contentious with the United States, Mexico, and Canada weighing up a co-hosting bid. Allowing the FIFA council rather than individual confederations to decide who gets direct entry may not go down too well.

“The recommendation will now be submitted for the ratification of the FIFA council, whose next meeting is scheduled for 9 May in Manama, Bahrain, two days prior to the 67th FIFA congress,” a FIFA statement said.

“In the event of co-hosting, the number of host countries to qualify automatically would be decided by the FIFA council.”

One area as yet undecided is UEFA’s request to have each of its 16 teams in separate groups. But UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said he was “satisfied” with the proposal. “We feel that UEFA will be fairly represented with a total of 16 national associations competing in the new format of the World Cup,” he said.

Under the playoff plan – which replaces the existing system of two intercontinental, two-leg ties that account for the current half-slots – the final two qualifying places will be decided by a mini-tournament played in the November before the World Cup as a test event, a move that would appear to put the Confederations Cup at considerable risk.  

All five confederations other than Europe will have one representative, with the host continent providing the sixth playoff team.

Two of the playoff nations will be seeded based on the world rankings. The unseeded teams will be involved in a two-match first round, with the two winners then facing a seeded team each for a World Cup berth. The play-off will be contested in the same country as the World Cup.

One immediate concern is CONMEBOL’s proposed six slots. Given there are only 10 countries in the confederation, their issue will be how to maintain a competitive qualification system that has any commercial value at all.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council, composed of the FIFA president and the presidents of each of the six confederations, made the recommendation at its meeting in Zurich on Thursday and the proposal will be submitted for the ratification of the FIFA Council, whose next meeting is scheduled for May 9 in Manama, Bahrain, two days prior to the 67th FIFA Congress.

In January, the FIFA Council unanimously decided to expand the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition from its 2026 edition.
-0- PANA VAO 31March2017

31 march 2017 13:33:50

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