KUALA LUMPUR // Sepp Blatter yesterday called for more berths for Asian teams at future stagings of the World Cup and said the issue would be addressed at a meeting later this month.
The Fifa president said more Asian teams should enter the tournament, at the expense of European and South American teams, stressing that Asia provides 50 per cent of the body’s revenues with Europe contributing less than 20 per cent.
“We have the right and we have the obligation and the responsibility to bring this matter to discussion. We have to do that,” he said, referring to Fifa’s May 30-31 congress in Mauritius.
Asia currently has four automatic spots at the World Cup, with another available if an Asian team wins an intercontinental play-off. Europe has 13 places out of the total of 32.
A reduction in the number of European places would be seen as a slight to Michel Platini, the head of the European football body Uefa, who is expected to bid for the Fifa presidency in 2015.
The newly elected president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim of Bahrain, also said “Asia deserves more”, pointing to international successes such as South Korea’s bronze medal at last year’s Olympics.
“I think this is something that even the president addressed today in our congress and I think it has to be looked at,” he said.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil “is very close,” he added, “but we have to look in the future where the interest of Asian teams and national associations is.
“The teams have progressed very well in the last few years and I hope we can earn more slots in the World Cup.
“I’m sure it would be an incentive for them to do well and hopefully develop the game more in their countries, and the competition will be greater.”
He added: “There’s always the 4.5 slots so far that we have now but I think there are other teams which I feel are in the same calibre who can progress and give good results.”
The AFC is made up of federations that represents approximately two-thirds of planet’s population. However, the continent’s 47 federations are six short of the number inside Uefa.
Also, the AFC has had only one team reach the semi-finals of the World Cup, South Korea in 2002. Uefa sides have won 10 World Cups, and South American sides have won the other nine.
South America will have at least five nations in the 2014 World Cup, including the hosts, Brazil, and it could be six if the fifth-placed side in Conmebol qualifying wins a home-and-away play-off against Asia’s No 5 side.
Conmebol, is made up of only 10 federations, but three are World Cup winners – Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
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