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SBD Global/November 4, 2013/International Football

Expanding World Cup To 40 Teams Would Boost Asia's Development

So low has the reputation of FIFA and football administrators become that any idea of expanding the World Cup to 40 teams "is dismissed as political maneuvering," according to John Duerden of ESPN. And in this case, it certainly looks that way, "but that does not stop it from it being a good thing for Asia and, in the long-term, everybody." Many do not agree. The reaction "has been pretty negative so far in Europe." The ideal situation from an Asian point of view "would be greater representation within the current format." Where you stand on the debate of whether Asia should have more "tends to come from whether you think the World Cup should consist of the best teams in the world or be truly representative geographically or a rough combination of both." But while a 32-team World Cup does seem about right, "it is highly unlikely that in this zero-sum game, the east will ever be given any more automatic spots than the four it already has," despite recent mutterings from FIFA President Sepp Blatter. UEFA President Michel Platini said a few months ago that "the continent has to keep proving itself every four years, but even the first time that it genuinely did, back in 2002, it did so by cheating." Or "so the narrative quickly became." If Europe or South America, which sends half its teams to the World Cup, "refuse to reduce their allocation a little then it is natural that the idea of expansion is going to be attractive to the rest of the world." It is "hard to argue that having eight more teams would have no effect on the overall standard at least in the short-term (although talk of 'destroying' the competition seems a little over the top considering what has been served up in recent editions -- perhaps a little destruction is what this increasingly dull and negative football festival needs)" but it would open up the World Cup to Asia and be a huge boost to the continent's football development (ESPN, 11/3).
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International Football, Asia

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