Skip to content

The issue of continental World Cup berths taking center stage again

May 14, 2013, 10:10 AM EDT

Joseph Sepp Blatter

Two things to know about Sepp Blatter’s recent advocacy for better continental balance among World Cup spots:

First, it’s about politics. (It is always, thought?)  Remember, Blatter recently said he would seek a fifth term as FIFA president, never mind those promises to step down in 2015.

Second, it’s a very bad idea. As I always say, never underestimate the power of a really bad idea – especially one that gets dragged into a political dogfight.

Speaking recently in Asia, Blatter lamented that Europe and South America would gobble up 19 of the 32 berths for World Cup 2014.

We have to get a better balance. You are a powerhouse. You must be aware that you are a powerhouse … If you have the same number of participants from all continents then there is a balance of strength and a balance of forces … There is no chance to kick them [Europeans or South Americans] out before one of them is in the semifinals.”

All you really need to know is that Asia’s voting could be critical to Blatter’s reach for an unprecedented and highly controversial fifth term in FIFA’s highest seat. So, of course he wants more spots for Asia! Just as he will bang the drum for greater CONCACAF participation when he shifts focus on that voting block. Same for Africa, surely, when he gets around to it.

The problem, of course, is that more Asian teams, more teams from the relatively tiny Oceania confederation and more teams from our own region serve only to water down the World Cup field.

It is always fair to debate the dispersal of those 32 World Cup berths. Should half the South American nations get in? Does CONCACAF deserve fewer spots? Does Africa, with 56 nations, deserve more?

But the discussion should be based on data and whatever competitive criteria we can reasonably develop (which is admittedly tricky, since there is but one intercontinental competition that matters, the World Cup itself).

In this piece, the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson looks at the current dispersal of berths and the history of success of the lesser confederations. It’s involved, but it’s a good read. Maybe someone can email it to Blatter.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Manchester United accepts $13 million PL bid for Tom Cleverley

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT

    Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Can Paul Lambert and Roy Keane convince the midfielder to come to Villa Park?

  2. VIDEO: Louis van Gaal talks Angel Di Maria, Man Utd rebuilding process

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.20.53 AM

    LVG says the addition of ADM won’t change his approach to building how United plays soccer.

  3. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 3

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:05 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game this weekend.

  4. Americans Abroad Preview: Howard faces Chelsea, many Yanks on the road

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

    Everton v Arsenal - Premier League Getty Images

    The club season is in full swing, and there are plenty of American faces looking for three points this weekend.

  5. Men in Blazers video: Men in Blazers breakdown Everton-Chelsea

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 10.07.01 AM

    Who fears the match more: a Chelsea man bemoaning the last few visits to Goodison Park or an Everton fan wearing a ‘Not in the face’ button?

  6. Mourinho on Torres: “Our squad is closed”; Costa doubtful for weekend

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT

    Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League Getty Images

    Will Fernando Torres be leaving Stamford Bridge, and are Diego Costa’s injury concerns far less than first reported? Ask The Special One.

  7. Premier League Preview: Burnley vs. Manchester United

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:14 AM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Regardless of whether Di Maria plays, it’s hard to imagine Manchester United doesn’t wake up and use its desperation as an advantage.

  8. Europa League group draw: Everton, Spurs face stiff tests

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT

    Italy Soccer Europa League Final AP

    Can the Toffees emerge from a very difficult group headlined by Lille? Will Spurs triumph over Besiktas and Partizan?

  9. PST Extra: Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 29, 2014, 7:42 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.34.13 AM

    Joe Prince-Wright, Mike Prindiville and Jenna Corrado dig into the transfers of Angel Di Maria and Mario Balotelli to the Premier League.

  10. MLS Weekend Preview: Derbies close weekend kicking off off at Sporting Park

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:42 AM EDT

    Sporting Kansas City v Montreal Impact Getty Images

    NBCSN games on Friday, Sunday highlight a nine-match weekend in the domestic league.

  11. Leicester City lands coup with Inter legend Esteban Cambiasso

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT

    esteban_cambiasso Getty Images

    The Nerazzurri icon moves to the East Midlands after 10 years at the San Siro.

  12. Crimes and Misdemeanors: Portland’s Norberto Paparatto receives one-game suspension from MLS

    Aug 28, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    norberto_paparatto AP

    An arm to the back of Chad Marshall’s head earns the Timber’s center back a weekend off.

  13. Kei Kamara returning the MLS? Regardless, his time’s done at Middlesbrough

    Aug 28, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Kamara head shot

    Columbus, Sporting, Vancouver connected with a possible return.

  14. Lessons from 2010 say U.S. squad as much about opportunity, circumstances as youth

    Aug 28, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT

    jurgen_klinsmann

    In 2010, a series of young Americans looked prime for breakthroughs. Their experience reminds up: Four years is a long way off.

  15. Premier League Power Rankings: Familiar faces jostle for the top spot – Week 1

    Aug 28, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Nacer Chadli AP

    Our first Power Rankings of the 2014-15 season. What do you think?

  16. U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

    Aug 28, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    Rubin Rubin

    Rubio Rubin, Joe Gyau, and Emerson Hyndman are among the roster’s most-intriguing prospects for 2018.

  17. VIDEO: PST Extra – Did Manchester United waste $99 million on Angel Di Maria?

    Aug 28, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Manchester United Angel Di Maria AP

    Jenna, JPW and Prindi break down Di Maria to United, Balotelli to Liverpool and Chelsea’s tough trip to Everton.

  18. Who is Jordan Morris? College player gets US national team call up for friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:44 PM EDT

    Source: Pac -12 Source: Pac -12

    A striker from Stanford could become the first collegian in the MLS era to play for the USA. Who is he?

  19. Report: Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid battling to sign Radamel Falcao on loan

    Aug 28, 2014, 3:10 PM EDT

    Radamel Falcao AP

    Four top teams in the hunt for Falcao. Will they cough up the cash for a loan deal?

  20. Plenty of surprises in US national team roster for Czech Republic friendly

    Aug 28, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Klinsmann selects Stanford forward, several American youngsters based in Europe for Czech Republic clash.

Featured video

Breaking down Di Maria, Balotelli deals