PFF hails FIFA plan for big­ger WC field

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By OLMIN LEYBA

Philip­pine Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent Nonong Araneta wel­comed the de­ci­sion of the In­ter­na­tional Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion to ex­pand the Fifa World Cup to a 48-team com­pe­ti­tion be­gin­ning 2026.

“It’s a wel­come de­vel­op­ment,” Araneta told The STAR. “We fully sup­port the 48-team for­mat.”

The ex­pan­sion meant more slots for Asia in the world’s big­gest foot­ball event and down the line, more chances for the Philip­pine Azkals.

“It’s still a big hur­dle for our team but since there will be ad­di­tional slots for Asia, we’ll have more chances (to vie for a berth),” said Araneta.

The Fifa Coun­cil, af­ter a thor­ough anal­y­sis, yes­ter­day unan­i­mously voted to im­ple­ment a new tour­na­ment for­mat in­volv­ing 48 teams split into 16 groups of three.

In the cur­rent 32-team for­mat, the Fifa World Cup al­lo­cates four and a half slots for Asia.

“We be­lieve that Asia, as the big­gest con­ti­nent de­serves more slots com­pared with the cur­rent quota, look­ing at the eco­nomic power it has, and the pop­u­lar­ity for the game in Asia, in ad­di­tion to the huge de­vel­op­ment for foot­ball at all lev­els,” Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) pres­i­dent Shaikh Sal­man bin Ebrahim Al Khal­ifa said in a state­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Shaikh Sal­man, rais­ing the num­ber of teams in the fi­nals “will place greater re­spon­si­bil­ity on all mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions to strengthen their plans to fur­ther de­velop their na­tional teams in a strate­gic way, as they aim to reach the fi­nals.”

The ex­pan­sion, how­ever, drew flak from some sec­tors, es­pe­cially the clubs in Europe, which claimed the in­creased games will take its toll on play­ers. Some say the com­pet­i­tive level of the matches will suf­fer with more en­trants.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.