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FIFA World Cup: Should more African teams compete in the next World Cup?

Nov 3, 2022

DOHA, Qatar – Despite the continent having 54 members in FIFA, the world governing body of football, just five of the 32 teams competing in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be from Africa. 

Europe will have the most, with 13, although being geographically smaller than Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. 

With 55 nations, Europe is the FIFA region with the most members. It has consistently been at the top of the World Cup participant list. 

With 12 championships, it has also been the most prosperous region in the history of football’s premier competition. 

Does a region’s success impact how many berths it receives if size is irrelevant? 

It’s not as easy as it first appears to play the World Cup numbers game.

Africa normally has one more seat than Asia, although occasionally Asia receives five thanks to an intercontinental playoff that allows areas to compete for an additional spot. Australia, a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), defeated Honduras in a playoff to secure the AFC’s fifth spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

This time, Australia defeated Peru in the playoffs to once again qualify. Asia has six teams competing in the tournament thanks to Qatar’s automatic qualification as the host nation.

Africa normally has one more seat than Asia, although occasionally Asia receives five thanks to an intercontinental playoff that allows areas to compete for an additional spot. Australia, a member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), defeated Honduras in a playoff to secure the AFC’s fifth spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

This time, Australia defeated Peru in the playoffs to once again qualify. Asia has six teams competing in the tournament thanks to Qatar’s automatic qualification as the host nation.

African nations are disadvantaged in the World Cup system, according to Cameroon star Patrick Mboma, because of regional differences. 

According to Mboma, it is unfair. Consider South America. only 10 countries competed, and there were 4+1 berths available. That allows countries like Argentina or Brazil, for example, the finest opportunities to gain experience and close the gap with other countries on other continents. 

The “4+1” he was referring to was the prospect for additional slots in the playoffs for regions other than Africa and Europe. 

If Peru had defeated Australia in the playoff, it would have become the fifth South American team.

Two World Cups included Mboma, a previous African Footballer of the Year (1998 and 2002). In addition to winning gold at the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000, he is best known for helping Cameroon win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002. 

The 51-year-old, who formerly held his nation’s all-time goal scoring record in international football, claimed that the inaugural qualification competition’s four berths were a harsh deal that gave certain African nations an unfair advantage.

Many people on the continent would like to see more African teams represented, but those who play football are aware of the shortcomings. 

South Africa’s 2010 World Cup captain Aaron Mokoena says the region needs to “repair” itself. 

The former defender for Blackburn Rovers and Portsmouth criticized nations whose stadiums were barred by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for failing to achieve essential conditions. 

The grounds’ medical and technological facilities were subpar, and spectator security remained weak.

The 2026 World Cup will feature 48 teams, securing Africa at least four more spots, though Mboma isn’t quite persuaded of this. 

He predicted that “it will bring Europe additional spots.” “A third of the squads will be made up of European nations, [so] the situation is still unfair and unequal. 

“We comprehend that having more European countries than African or Asian ones makes it easier to market the competition. However, it won’t increase the likelihood that South American or non-European countries will take home the trophy.

One of Africa’s greatest chances in Qatar is Cameroon, which is led by coach Rigobert Song. Senegal and Ghana, both West African nations, as well as Morocco and Tunisia, have also qualified. The only teams missing from the 2018 edition are Egypt and Nigeria, who were replaced by Cameroon and Ghana.

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