The new head of African football, Ahmad Ahmad seems to have scored a big win early into his tenure as FIFA approved more World Cup slots for Africa.
FIFA had earlier announced that the number of teams at the World Cup will be increased from 32 to 48 and African football associations had boldly thrown down a bid for 10 of those World Cup slots.
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During FIFA President, Gianni Infantino’s visit to the continent, they had a chance to further argue their side and the petitioning seems to have paid off. The Bureau of the FIFA Council has now resolved to give Africa 9 World Cup slots.
The Council, comprising of the FIFA President and the presidents of each of the six confederations, came up with the recommendation after due consultation. FIFA issued a statement saying that the council had agreed on the slots at a meeting in Zurich on Thursday, March 30.
Following the resolution, the recommendation of the Council is to be submitted to the FIFA council for ratification. That meeting is set to take place on May 9 at Manama, Bahrain and if the recommendation is approved then, the changes will take effect in the 2026 World Cup.
Should the recommendation be approved, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will get four more slots added to the current five of the 32-team competition. In addition to that, an extra team from Africa will also get the chance to battle it out with eight other teams to get a bonus slot.
Basically, the new 48-team competition will have 46 direct slots, with two other extra slots decided through a playoff tournament between six teams–one each from five of the six contributing confederations, with the only exception being the Union of European Football Association (UEFA).
Below are the approved FIFA World Cup slots per confederation:
- Confederation of African Football (CAF) – 9 direct slots
- Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – 8 direct slots
- North, Central American and Caribbean Football Confederation (CONCACAF) – 6 direct slots
- South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) – 6 direct slots
- Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) – 1 direct slot
- Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) – 16 direct slots
The host country of the FIFA World Cup will still qualify automatically as has been the case in the 32-team tournament. Morocco is, currently, petitioning to be the host country for the 2026 World Cup.
CAF president, Ahmad Ahmad has expressed support for Morocco’s 2026 World Cup bid and even the FIFA President has said that the country seems ready to host. With this bid, Morocco is bidding for the rights to host the tournament for the fifth time after they were turned down in 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2010.