The leather game as it is fondly called by its admirers is one of the largest sports tournaments in the world. It is the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games. The cumulative crowd of all the matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million seeing the final match, a shattering ninth of the entire population of the planet. Aside the prestige and honour it brings to the host countries, it also brings out a form of awareness to the volunteers. No FIFA World Cup or other sporting events would be the same without the awe-inspiring impartation of its numerous volunteers. The volunteers provide salient assistance to a vast range of operational areas and at the same time paving the wonderful feeling during the course of the games through the friendliness and felicity.

Expansion to 48-team plan

The plan for the proposed allocation of slots from its confederations for the expanded 48-team World Cup in 2026 is already in place. FIFA’s plan accounts for 46 of the 48 places in the expanded field. Qualifying would become easier for many countries. If the host country continues to receive an automatic place, it means in the future, the slot will come from its confederation allotment.

The Concacaf region, which includes the United States, would get six automatic qualifiers under the new plan. The six would be an increment from the current three for the normal 32-team. Africa will get nine guaranteed places, up from five. Asia will get eight, which is double the current allotment of four.

The six-team play-off

FIFA announced its proposal for the allocation of spots for the 48-team 2026 World Cup and revealed that a six-nation play-off could be brought in to determine the last two spots. Since the proposed play-off will feature one team from each of the six confederations with the exception of UEFA, and one from the host nation’s confederation, with both teams being seeded based on world rankings

The Unseeded teams will be involved in a two-match first round, with the two winners from that then facing a seeded team each for a World cup spot. The play-off will be played in the same country as the World Cup and used as a test-run, and FIFA hinted November 2025 as the probable month in which it would be played. The nature of the politics being staged in the world governing body will be impetuous to the unseeded teams and therefore bring an unprecedented pressure on the hosts.

Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA president, said in a statement that he was “satisfied” with the proposal. “We feel that UEFA will be fairly represented with a total of sixteen national associations competing in the new format of the World Cup”, he said.

Hosting rights

The number of hosts for the tournament could increase to four- four countries would host. This decision comes with unwelcoming attitude by the lovers of the game. It means fans will be unavailable for some games and would result to ineffective census. Fans will have to travel intercontinental to see games of their choices. Since Asian countries that belong to AFC (Asian Football Confederation) are not allowed to host the 2026 World Cup, it means other countries can pull bids. The last time we had a joint hosting was in 2002 when Korea and Japan hosted with Brazil emerging as the winner.

The hosting rights may fall on USA, or either co-host with Mexico, due to tremendous commercial opportunities, and increasing interest within the country in the game as we have seen evolution of more expansion sides coming into the MLS (Major League Soccer). Perhaps there is a bigger commercial opportunity arising now in America because of the television audiences that are booming. But it could as well turn out to be a failure putting the new immigration and America’s travel ban been imposed. This new travel affects the Middle East nations- Syria and others and FIFA will not allow any sort of embarrassment to fans of the beautiful game.

Morocco has shown interest to host in the same vein that USA showed the same interest. The World Cup might just be staged in Africa for the second time after the World gathered in South Africa in 2010. The Minister of Sports in Morocco claims that Morocco has the infrastructure and organizational capacity to host the World Cup.

What it means for Africa

Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon would all be guaranteed slots under the new system. This new system would also allow for improving sides such as Burkina Faso and DR Congo to stand a chance of making the cut.


This article was written by Alex Ndace. He tweets via: @AlexNdace; culled from Issue 16

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