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June 16, 2010

FIFA should change rules for World Cup

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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These days, I am one of millions who will be enjoying the 64 matches of the World Cup. "Soccer" is what the game is called by North Americans; football is the name by the rest of the world.

Thirty-two teams are competing.

In addition to host country South Africa, which automatically qualifies, FIFA’s rules allow the best 13 European teams to compete, but only best five from Africa, the best five from Asia, and the best eight from the Americas.

However, the poor performance of some European teams in this year World Cup should convince FIFA to reduce the number of qualifying European teams from 13 to 10 and increase the number of African and Asian teams from 5 to 6 each and the number of qualifying teams from the Americas from 8 to 9.

The championship has been held every four years since 1930, except for the war years. The month-long tournament is the culmination of a qualification process in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas that begins almost three years earlier.

Football is the most popular sport in the world. Most of the world-class teams were in Europe when FIFA started the championship, but gradually excellent teams from South America, Africa and Asia have emerged over the last 50 years.

In addition, the break-up of European countries like Yugoslavia, has given Europe an unfair advantage. After the break up, “Yugoslavia,” now has more than one team representing it in the competition leading to the World Cup.

If the new rules had been changed for 2010, fans would have seen a good team like Egypt’s, the winner of the African Cup.

Ideally, FIFA should change the number of qualifying teams for the next World Cup in 2014, which will be held in Brazil.

If not, FIFA should change it for 2018.

FIFA owes it to millions of football fans in Africa, Asia and the Americas to include more of their national teams in the World Cup.

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