Thursday, December 7, 2006
Africa gets extra slot, as Blatter restates confidence in host
AFRICA will present six teams at the 2010 World Cup and this is official. The world football governing body (FIFA) yesterday announced that South Africa's slot as host would not be part of Africa's five slots.
Also yesterday, FIFA brushed aside the avalanche of criticisms that has trailed the organisation of the World Cup in South Africa as the body restates confidence in the people and government of South Africa to host the world.
Of late, there have been calls that because of African teams' "poor" performances at last World Cup, they should not get an extra slot for the next edition. Also, some foreign journalists have called on FIFA to cancel the hosting rights granted South Africa and move the tourney outside Africa.
The body also announced that the World Cup would take place from June 11 to July 11. FIFA Executive Committee has also decided to keep the qualifying format of the last World Cup, so the host's place is guaranteed.
"We didn't change anything," said FIFA President, Sepp Blatter.
Blatter reiterated that FIFA had faith in South Africa, but added: "We have said that they should bring a little bit of fire to the preparations."
The decision to keep the same number of qualifying places will see five African teams plus South Africa secure a place in the tournament. In addition, there will be places for 13 European countries, five Asian and Oceania teams, and a total of eight for South America and the Central American regions.
The bidding process for the 2014 World Cup was also officially opened after the two-day meeting. This will be held in South America, with Brazil as favourite, after a decision in May 2002 to rotate the competition on a continental basis.
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