Geneva: Two influential FIFA committees on Friday opposed the proposal to increase the number of berths at the 2006 World Cup finals from 32 to 36 as too complicated and expensive. "The great majority of the members of the FIFA Technical and Football Committee expressed opposition to the proposal," said a statement released on the eve of a meeting of FIFA's decision making executive board that will discuss the issue. FIFA said that during discussions led by Angel Maria Villar of Spain, chairman of the Football Committee, and French soccer great Michel Platini, chairman of the Technical Committee, "the large majority of members shared the opinion that the number of teams competing in the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals should remain at 32." FIFA's Executive Committee meets Saturday to discuss the plan, put forward by the South American federation CONMEBOL after the world soccer body decided to guarantee a place for Oceania in the finals and reduce South America's berths from five to four. FIFA said the main arguments against the change cited were as follows:
- Having 36 teams in nine groups of four is not feasible. The next viable number of teams would be 40, drawn in eight groups of five, whereby an extra 32 matches would need to be played.
- The seven best second-placed teams could not be determined simultaneously, which would result in an extended period of inactivity for some teams and could potentially also lead to arranged results.
- The current format with 32 teams, with the first- and second-placed teams in each group qualifying for the knock-out rounds, is not only simple in mathematical terms but is also fair from a sporting perspective.
- Increasing the number of teams would increase the financial and logistical requirements, but would not bring about a corresponding increase in revenue and would prolong the competition inordinately.
Topics : Football