World Cup

Should Africa Have More World Cup Places?

world cup 2014The Africa Cup of Nations kicks off this weekend and Cameroon Football Federation President Mohammed Iya has already ignited some fireworks saying that Africa deserves more than its current five places at the World Cup.

According to Iya, half of the European teams that earn a spot at the World Cup are no better than many African teams and that Ghana’s run to the quarterfinals of the last World Cup “enhanced the reputation of African teams.”

Iya went on to say that the Africa’s federations are “convinced we deserve more.” His statement was backed today by Ghana Football Association president Kwesi Nyantakyi.

Well lets look at the numbers. Current Africa has five berths in the 32-team World Cup, compared to 13 from Europe, up to five from Asia and up to five from South America.

If we look at the last World Cup in 2010, out the 8 teams that made the quarter-finals, one was from Africa (1 out of 5 spots = 20%), four from South America (80%) and three from Europe (20%). If we go one step further and look at the four semi-finalists, three were from Europe and one from South America.

While Iya highlights the successful run of Ghana, he conveniently overlooks the fact that three of Africa’s five clubs (60%) finished bottom of their group in South Africa, compared with three European teams (20%). How then will adding more adding more African teams in place of European teams make the competition better?

If anything, the region that should be getting more team is South America. They consistently send at least two teams into the quarter-finals and beyond. Why not take one of the European slots and give it to South America?