By Fred Obera
African nations want 10 places at the expanded 2026 World Cup competition from the current five representatives. The continent’s football association tabled a request proposal to the world soccer governing body FIFA, The recent expansion of the competition to a 48-team World Cup is an opportunity for less celebrated footballing nations across the continent to participate at the biggest stage.
African nations want 10 places at the expanded 2026 World Cup competition from the current five representatives. The continent’s football association tabled a request proposal to the world soccer governing body FIFA, whose mandate includes organizing and managing soccer worldwide.
The request for 10 slots featured during the meeting between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and more than 50 presidents of African Football Associations in South Africa.
The 2026 World Cup will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup. With 211 national football associations as members, the quadrennial international men’s football championship is contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The expansion to a 48-team World Cup was unanimously approved in Zurich by the FIFA Council in January 2017, and will come into effect at the 2026 tournament.
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“All associations back an expanded World Cup and Africa hopes for 10 places,” South African FA president Danny Jordaan, told a Johannesburg radio station.
The new FIFA World Cup 2026 format will feature 16 first-round groups from which winners and runners-up qualify for the knockout phase.
“It has been a very good idea and a chance for the associations to also speak directly to the Fifa leadership about their issues and concerns,” said Ahmad Ahmad, president of Madagascar Football Federation.
Even though the continent successfully hosted the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa and many African footballers have dominated the European clubs, football development on the continent is still facing numerous challenges.
The story of disappointing performances of the national teams during the World Cup competitions has always been a big concern. The moribund leadership, from the continental mother body, the Confederation of African Football (CAF), to the national administration has been identified as a key problem. Corruption, poor infrastructure and poverty are some of the issues affecting the game in Africa.
All these cross-cutting issues affecting African football need to be addressed urgently to bring trophies to Africa, otherwise teams from the continent could just be making up numbers.
History of FIFA World Cup changes
The FIFA World Cup tournament began in 1930 in Uruguay with 13 teams, with only one entrant each from Asia and Africa. The 2026 tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams. This is the largest expansion in the history in terms of percentage in the World Cup. In 1982, it went from 16 to 24 teams and later it increased to 32.
With this expansion, the less celebrated footballing nations across the continent have an opportunity to participate at the biggest stage.
In 2018, Russia will be the host of the FIFA World Cup and Qatar will host the competition in 2022.