Asia to get eight places in expanded World Cup – could China finally qualify?

Controversial plan has to be ratified in May

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 10:38am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 10:38am

Asia will get eight places in the 2026 World Cup when the competition is expanded to 48 teams – a possible boost to China’s hopes of finally qualifying.

China are ninth in the latest world rankings. President Xi Jinping has demanded the country become a soccer superpower and qualify for, host and ultimately win a World Cup in coming decades.

World governing body Fifa released recommendations that will see all football regions get more World Cup slots under the controversial plan to expand the tournament from 32 teams.

Africa will get nine, up from four, Asia eight from 4.5 (the ‘half’ place is alloted by playoff against another confederation), Europe 16 from 13, North, Central America and the Caribbean six from 3.5 and South America six from 4.5

Oceania, which has not been guaranteed an entry in past World Cups, will be assured one spot.

The plan to expand the tournament is subject to approval at Fifa’s May Congress in Bahrain and has been criticised by many as a blatant money grab.