2014 World Cup Feature: Give Africa more World Cup slots
Every time the Soccer World Cup comes around, Africa tries to push for more spots in the global spectacle.
The argument is always that with 52 member-countries, which is close to the 54 that Europe has, Africa should have more than the five slots that they currently have at the World Cup.
As things stand, Europe enjoys 13 spots at the World Cup to Africa’s five. The other spots are divided among Asia who have 4.5, South America 4.5, Concacaf 3.5 and Oceania who have half a place while the hosts qualify automatically.
Those who are against Africa getting more slots at the World Cup, always point to the fact that no country from the continent has reached the semi-final stage.
Despite the world’s greatest player, Pele of Brazil, saying as early as the 1980s that an African country will win the World Cup before the turn of the century, the best Africa has done is reach the quarter-finals.
Cameroon broke the duck in 1990 by reaching the quarter-final stage at Italia ‘90. It raised hopes that at least an African country would do better at the following versions. However, it remained a pipe dream with Senegal bowing out at the same stage in 2002 and Ghana doing the same in the last version played here in South Africa four years ago.
Many will point an accusing finger at “Bad Boy” Luis Suarez who stopped a goal-bound shot in injury time to prevent a goal that would have taken Ghana to the semi-finals in 2010.
It is now history that Uruguay went on to win the match in the dreaded penalty shoot-out and with that victory, Africa’s dreams of a semi-final spot, went up in smoke.
So the waiting continues.
And as the build-up to the current World Cup continued, so did the anticipation of how many African countries would go through the first round.
And as fate would have it, only two countries – the No 1-ranked Algeria and Nigeria. Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon disappointed by bowing out of the tournament in the first round.
Needless to say, ill-discipline and off-field shenanigans seem to have contributed more to the demise of these countries than the quality of football on the field.
The Ghanaian government even had to send a plane carrying $3m to Brazil to appease the players and persuade them to continue playing. Cameroonian players threatened a strike and even had team-mates exchanging blows at some stage.
Even Nigerian players went on strike and didn’t attend their first scheduled training session ahead of their last 16 match against France.
But these aside, does Africa deserve more places?
Well the principles of democracy that determines that the majority rule, demands that Africa should have more spots in the World Cup.
As things stand, Europe has a much better chance of having more countries in all the rounds of the World Cup because of their vast representation.
They had five countries going through to the Last 16 round out of their 13 representatives and who knows how many African countries would have made it had there been more than five.
Look at South, Central and North America. They contributed a total of nine countries for the second round, the same number they had in South Africa four years ago.
So if the principles of democracy are properly applied, Africa does deserve more places at the World Cup just as they also deserve more places in the Fifa executive where the continent currently only has four representatives out of the 24.
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa’s leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.