In a new post on his Facebook page in relation to the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the leader of the Togolese party, Nathaniel Olympio deplores the quantitative disadvantage of Africa and “the balance of power within Fifa which continues to maintain this imbalance to the detriment of Africa”. He wants the African federations to strengthen their capacity in order to “weigh more within Fifa”.
Fifa and the United Nations Security Council, same fight?
The Football World Cup, the king sport which mobilizes the entire planet every four years, is supposed to be a channel for the expression of equity, fraternity and universality. But the reality is that not all confederations are treated with the same consideration. Since its first participation in the World Cup in 1934, Africa remains largely under-represented in this competition.
Of the 32 teams currently participating in the World Cup in Qatar, 5 are from Asia, 5 from Africa, 3 from North America, Central America and the Caribbean, 5 from South America, 1 from Oceania, and 13 from Europe.
Out of 10 teams that make up its confederation, South America has the same number of World Cup participants as Africa, which has 54 teams. And Europe benefits from 13 participants while it has almost the same number of teams as Africa, 55. From a statistical point of view, 50% of South American teams participate in the World Cup, around 30% of European teams, against only 10% for Africa.
Africa’s quantitative disadvantage is evident, which impacts its chances of winning.
From a qualitative point of view, African teams have the same footballing skills as today’s major teams and even those who have already won the trophy. Not only countries like Cameroon in 1990, Ghana in 2010 or Senegal in 2002 have already reached the quarter-finals, but some victories are indicative of African skills.
This is the case of Cameroon’s victory over Argentina, in the opening match in 1990. It was in Italy. Argentina then held the world title. 12 years later, in 2002, Senegal achieves a similar performance by beating France who were also reigning world champions. This edition was jointly organized by South Korea and Japan.
In 2022 in Qatar, we can also note the victory of Cameroon over Brazil, that of Morocco over Belgium and that of Tunisia over France which holds the title.
Admittedly, things have evolved very gradually since 1934. But, if we can understand that the level of African football was quite low a few decades ago, no reason of competence can justify today that Africa is so underrepresented. Everything tends to show that the balance of power within FIFA continues to maintain this imbalance against Africa.
During the World Cup in Qatar, according to the Marca newspaper, Ghana coach Otto Addo said at a press conference on November 27, 2022: “There are 55 countries in Africa and we deserve more places. Never in the history of FIFA have we been tied. Five places… if we had 13 places like Europe, the chances of going further would be greater. In my opinion, it is unfair”.
Triple golden ball and former president of UEFA, Michel Platini abounds in the same direction by severely hooking Fifa: « As long as there are idiots at FIFA, I’m not afraid to say it, it will continue to do anything. We cannot have 5 out of 10 South American teams at the World Cup, and only 5 out of 50 from Africa”.
This situation is reminiscent of that of Africa in the eyes of the United Nations Security Council. While Africa has 1.2 billion inhabitants and has 54 countries in the General Assembly, which represents 25% of the votes, the continent is not at all represented within the Security Council.
African federations must strengthen their ability to weigh more within Fifa. Nowadays, it is not possible for world football to evolve without Africa. The continent must therefore find its full place there.
Great footballers of African origin shine in European clubs, their contribution to changing the rules can be very useful. Beyond that, African states too, by strengthening their capacity to influence, must better defend football on the continent.
President of the Togolese Party