UAE in World Cup boost as FIFA call for more Asian places

Simon Foster

In what could be a potential boost for the UAE, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for more berths for Asian teams at future editions of the World Cup and said the issue would be addressed at a meeting later this month.

The UAE national team is enjoying a spell of great success; lifting the Gulf Cup at the start of the year before stretching their unbeaten run to 13 games with back-to-back victories in the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers to thrust the Whites up into the world’s top 90 and seventh in Asia.

The UAE’s resurgence has come too late for the 2014 World Cup having finished bottom of their group in the third round of qualifying, but Blatter’s objectives of increasing the amount of Asian participants in future tournaments is sure to have a positive effect on the Whites.

Blatter said FIFA should allow more Asian teams at the expense of European and South American teams, stressing that Asia provides 50 percent of the body's revenues with Europe contributing less than 20 percent.

"We have the right and we have the obligation and the responsibility to bring this matter to discussion. We have to do that," he said, referring to FIFA's May 30-31 congress in Mauritius.

Asia currently has four automatic spots at the World Cup, with another available if an Asian team wins an intercontinental play-off. Europe has 13 places out of the total of 32.

Newly elected Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who defeated UAE FA chief Yousuf Alserkal in Thursday’s election, also said "Asia deserves more", pointing to international successes such as South Korea's bronze medal at last year's Olympics.

"I think this is something that even the president (Blatter) addressed today in our congress and I think it has to be looked at," he said. "(The 2014 World Cup in Brazil) is very close but we have to look in the future where the interest of Asian teams and national associations is.

"The teams have progressed very well in the last few years and I hope we can earn more slots in the World Cup.

"I'm sure it would be an incentive for them to do well and hopefully develop the game more in their countries, and the competition will be greater."

He added: "There's always the 4.5 slots so far that we have now but I think there are other teams which I feel are in the same calibre who can progress and give good results."


- UAE FA chief Alserkal 'accepts' AFC Presidential result

- Who is Sheikh Salman? Sport360 looks at the new AFC President's rise to the top of Asian football

- UAE move up nine places in latest FIFA World rankings


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