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Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 14:45

Reaction to FIFA World Cup expansion

By Agencies
Reaction to FIFA World Cup expansion
This file photo taken on May 12, 2006 shows the FIFA World Cup trophy presented to the public in Berlin. (BARBARA SAX / AFP)

Reaction to FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, starting from 2026:

Asia pushes for more spots in expanded World Cup

The Asian Football Confederation says the continent deserves to be among the chief recipients of extra World Cup places following FIFA's decision to expand the event to 48 teams.

All confederations will be eager to capture as many as possible of the extra spots on offer from 2026 onward, and AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said the rapid growth in Asia's population warranted much more than current four direct qualifying berths at the World Cup.

"We believe that Asia, as the biggest continent, deserves more slots compared with the current quota, looking at the economic power it has, and the popularity for the game in Asia, in addition to the huge development for football at all levels," Sheikh Salman said.

We believe that Asia, as the biggest continent, deserves more slots compared with the current quota

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, AFC president

The Asian confederation spreads from the Middle East to East Asian nations such as Japan and Korea.

Australia, which has been part of the Asian confederation since the 2006 World Cup, backed the calls for more World Cup berths for the region.

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said the decision to expand the World Cup recognized the growth of the game outside of Europe and South America.

"Australia is part of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) where the most significant growth and investment is occurring, and we expect this trend to continue over the coming years leading up to the World Cup expansion," Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said.

"As the quality of Asian football continues to improve, AFC member associations will justifiably deserve greater representation."

FIFA projects the expanded World Cup will generate increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams. FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get.

Victor Montagliani, president of the North and Central American and Caribbean Confederation (CONCACAF)

"From the organisational standpoint, there will be more games, more training facilities but it increases the opportunity for revenue, for exposure. In the end, I thought the decision was made for the right reasons.

"Some countries are maybe spoilt because they go all the time, like Germany, so maybe they take it for granted but, for a lot of countries making it to the World Cup, it's the biggest thing to happen to that country.

"I think it's an opportunity to have that dream expanded throughout the world... Even on the sporting side it's a win."

The European Club Association:

"We fail to see the merits of changing the current format of 32 that has proven to be the perfect formula from all perspectives. Questionable is also the urgency in reaching such an important decision, with nine years to go until it becomes applicable, without the proper involvement of stakeholders who will be impacted by this change.

"We understand that this decision has been made for political reasons rather than sporting ones and under considerable political pressure, something ECA believes is regrettable."

Reaction to FIFA World Cup expansion
Gianni Infantino, FIFA President speaks after the FIFA Council meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland, Jan 10, 2017. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)

European soccer's governing body UEFA:

"It was clear that all other confederations were overwhelmingly in favour of expanding the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams starting in 2026. As a result, UEFA decided to join in supporting the new format of the competition.

"UEFA is satisfied that it succeeded in postponing the final decision regarding the slot allocation of every confederation in the future format of the FIFA World Cup.

"We would also like to state that we are happy that the new proposed length and format of the tournament does not increase the burden on players. We will also ensure that clubs' interests will continue to be protected."

Alejandro Dominguez, president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).

"This is a success for world football, from the perspective that we are here to develop football and everyone should have a chance to play with the ball.

"We have a new development which is very important for everyone... from now on, we have to sit down and work out how to put it into practice and how it will affect each one of the confederations."

English Football Association statement

"Following today's FIFA Council decision, we will work with UEFA, FIFA and the other European associations to understand how the 48-team FIFA World Cup will work.

"The priority has to be consideration of the potential impact on fans, players, teams and leagues, and also recognition of the importance of sporting integrity and commercial viability.

"In terms of the allocation of places, we note that further discussions will follow across the confederations and would expect a proper consultation process to be carried out before any decision is made."

German Football Federation president Reinhard Grindel:

"My concern is that football will change and the attractiveness of the game will suffer. We all love games where teams face each other openly.

"Now I see the danger that in the future we will see more defensive-minded teams. If the World Cup stops being as attractive then fan and sponsor support suffers as well as does its marketing." 

 
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