Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has hailed the proposed slot allocation for a 48-team FIFA World Cup, which will give Asia a guaranteed eight places in 2026.
Shaikh Salman said, after attending the meeting of Bureau of the FIFA Council on Thursday which discussed the proposed slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, that the allocation was a boost for Asian football.
The AFC President said that the recommendation, which received unanimous support from the Confederation presidents at the meeting chaired by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, was a fair distribution and should now be formally approved at the FIFA Council meeting in Bahrain in May.
Shaikh Salman said that the proposal to give Asia a guaranteed eight places in the finals – as well as a nation in a proposed play-off tournament – will aid development of the game in Asia.
He added that the number of places reflected Asia’s position as the biggest continent in the world game both it terms of size and population as well as its strength as an economic powerhouse. Shaikh Salman said that there was a real passion for the game in Asia.
Shaikh Salman pointed out that the AFC is dedicated to supporting all Member Associations under the AFC Vision and Mission which sets out the clear objective of giving support to Member Associations in preparing their national teams to be competitive on the world stage.
The AFC President stressed that the new allocation will increase the responsibility of the AFC’s Member Associations to continue their efforts to put in place plans and programmes which will prepare their national teams not only to take advantage of this opportunity to qualify for the FIFA World Cup but also to then perform well in the finals.