FIFA President Infantino Still Keen On More African WC Spots

FIFA President Infantino Still Keen On More African WC Spots

During a short visit to Nigeria FIFA president Gianni Infantino has reiterated his aim to provide African national teams with an additional two World Cup qualification spots in future, when his plan of extending the tournament to 40 teams is realised.

Infantino was joined by new FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura during their two-day visit of Nigeria. The Senegalese former UN official is the first African secretary general of world football’s governing body.

Swiss UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino was elected as the new FIFA president at the end of February, and began working for world football’s governing body with immediate effect.

The election ended in a race between Infantino and Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, but the Swiss was the victor in the second round of voting with 115 of the 207 votes from FIFA’s national associations, defeating Salman, who had 88.

In April Infantino proposed to expand the World Cup from 32 to 40 teams, freeing up an additional eight places for qualification, which would translate to two more places for Africa.

At the moment Africa is allotted only five qualification spots, with 54 nations fighting for a place at the World Cup. This makes it very difficult for most teams in Africa to ever get a taste of the tournament. Infantino’s plan would provide two additional places for the continent.

FIFA president on a mission

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During his visit to Africa which began on Sunday, Infantino continued to speak about his expansion plan for the World Cup, and the fact that Africa would benefit from the added teams.

“I believe for the 2026 World Cup, we should have 40 teams and out of the additional eight teams we should have at least two more African teams,” Infantino said to media representatives in Abuja, according to SuperSport.

“We are discussing this and I hope I will be able to convince everyone as well,” he added.

Infantino met with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari during his visit, while also interacting with 18 football federation presidents from various African states.

He went on to exalt Nigeria as a country that is important for the development of the football on the continent.

“I foresee Nigeria as a bedrock for the development of the game in Africa, however infrastructure, stability and security are needed to make this happen,” he explained.

The 2018 and 2022 World Cups are set to feature 32 teams, but if Infantino has his way, the 2026 competition may see a record seven African teams participation in the finals.