By Chinedu Adonu
A group, African Network For Peace And Good Governance, ANPG, has written to Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, President, Gianni Infantino, demanding for additional 4 slots to be given to Africa continent before 2026 World Cup.
The Executive Director, ANPG, Bede Aneke, made the demand in an open letter to the FIFA President and made available to newsmen in Enugu on Monday.
In a letter entitled “An appeal to increase number of slots allocated to Africa in the FIFA World Cup,” Aneke noted that the football body had continued to allocate only 5 slots to Africa, CAF.
He contended that the number was not only unsatisfactory but inequitable to Africa continents when compared to other continents.
Aneke said that he and other football lovers in Africa are demanding that the African continent be given at least four more slots in the four year mundial to make for a total of 9 slots for the continent, begining from the next edition of the tournament in 2026.
According to him, FIFA’s recent record showed that FIFA has 208 member associations (countries) from six different Confederations, namely UEFA, CAF, AFC, CONCAF, CONMEBOL and OFC.
“Out of this number, Africa has the largest number with 54 member associations, followed by Europe (UEFA) that has 52 member associations.
“Asia (AFC) has 46 member associations; North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCAF) has 35 member associations; South America (CONMEBOL) has just 10 member associations while Oceania (OFC) has 11 member associations,” he said.
He further stressed that, “It is surprising that Africa has continued to be under represented in FIFA World Cup in terms of unbefitting slots to participate in the four year world tournament.
“Under the present arrangement, 32 teams participate in the World Cup and Europe has the highest number of representation with 13 teams.”
Aneke expressed regret that Africa (CAF) with the highest number of member associations in FIFA had just 5 slots while AFC (Asia), CONCAF and CONMEBOL with far less number of member associations enjoy 5 and 4 slots.
The Director said many in Africa considered the slots given to them as unfair and part of the seemingly entrenched marginalisation of the football loving continent.
He noted that the recent Bureau of the FIFA Council, comprising – Infantino, and the Presidents of six confederations that make up FIFA, met in Zurich and agreed on the expansion of the team participation in the World Cup from 32 to 48.
“Under the proposed expansion, UEFA gets three more slots, thereby taking Europe’s total slot to 16 while CAF (Africa) will be given four more slots, making it up to 9 slots for the continent.
“AFC gets a total of 8 slots; CONCAF and CONMEBOL will enjoy 6 slots each,” he stated.
Aneke however, appealed to Infantino to ensure that the 9 slots proposed for Africa is realised and that Africa is not cheated when the Bureau presents its expansionist report to the FIFA Council for ratification in May 2023.
“This is necessary to give Africa, which parades an array of global stars, a sense of belonging and justice in the decisions and activities of the World’s football governing body.
“Anything short of this will be unacceptable as it portrays a clear unfair treatment and discrimination against Africa.
“If more and corresponding slots are given to Africa, it will make the World Cup more competitive and the real World Cup it ought to be as the present arrangement favours Europe to win the tournament,” he appealed.