PFF hails FIFA plan for bigger WC field
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 12, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – 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.

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