AFRICANGLOBE – In spite of the continent’s remarkable growth in football, Africa continues to be heavily under-represented at the Fifa World Cup, with just five spots from its 54 member associations, says Ishmael M Dada.
Conversely, Europe, with 52 members, boasts 13 spots, more than twice each and every other Fifa member confederation in the world.
We understand that Europe invented the sport and co-founded the World Cup with South America.
But that history does not serve as a justification to award them the lion’s share at the world’s most prestigious sporting event. We know that the standard of football varies among world continents and the interest in the sport is not the same in every country.
However, Africa’s portion of the World Cup berths is amazingly low and worrisome; it needs to be urgently looked at.
African football has significantly improved over the past decades and its players are seen in major leagues around the world. It has produced and continues to produce players commanding first-team places across top European clubs.
The likes of Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon, Mohamadou Diara of Mali, Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast, George Weah of Liberia, Lucas Radebe of South Africa, Michael Essien of Ghana, JJ Okocha of Nigeria and many others underscore Africa’s prominence and its highly talented players.
The possibility that a particular country will win the World Cup depends not only on the strength of its representatives, but also on how many members are participating.
European teams have advanced in previous World Cups simply because there were so many of them.
Africa is not only undermined in global politics and economics, but in sport, too.
Asia, with 43 members, is also woefully under-represented, with just three automatic spots. A fair distribution of World Cup berths would be to knock off four places from Europe, award two to Africa, one to Asia and one to the Oceania Football Confederation. This would leave Europe with nine automatic berths.
I don’t see South America complaining, since it has four berths out of its 10 member associations.
Confederation of African Football officials must unite and approach Fifa to demand an increment to seven automatic spots in the 2018 World Cup, otherwise Africa will continue to be wrongly seen as an under-performing continent.
By: Ishmael M. Dada