Soccer

Jordaan backs Blatter over Africa, Asia WCup spots

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JOHANNESBURG (AP)

New South African football president Danny Jordaan backs Sepp Blatter's call for a rethink over the number of places given to African and Asian teams at the World Cup, saying they should be increased at the expense of Europe and South America.

It's ''an important matter for debate,'' Jordaan said on Saturday.

Jordaan, the former 2010 World Cup head organizer who was elected to lead SAFA last month, called for a review following comments from Blatter in a new FIFA magazine this week that said Africa, especially, was ''woefully'' under-represented at the top tournament.

''Developing economies should have a lot of say, which is why I am saying this matter must be fully researched and a proposal must be formulated,'' Jordaan said.

Blatter said African teams will struggle to win the World Cup because they are given so few places. There are five places at the World Cup for Africa compared to 13 for Europe. Repeating comments made by Blatter, Jordaan noted that traditional powers Europe and South America together will have up to 19 teams at next year's World Cup in Brazil compared to a maximum of 10 from Africa and Asia, yet Europe and South America have far less FIFA member countries combined than the other two confederations.

Blatter's comments may be interpreted as an effort to widen his support base in Africa and Asia ahead of a possible plan to run again for the FIFA presidency despite saying that this would be his last term in charge of world football.

African and Asian teams also have struggled to break through at the World Cup and a European or South American team has won every title in the 80-year history of the showpiece.

Cameroon was the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals in 1990 but since then only two others - Senegal in 2002 and Ghana three years ago - have got that far. South Korea is the only Asian team to reach the semifinals, making history at the tournament it co-hosted in 2002. In the last two World Cups, no Asian team and just one African team made the quarters.

Blatter said that was because not enough teams from those regions were being given a chance.

''At the end of the day, an equal chance for all is the paramount imperative of elite sport,'' he wrote. ''From a purely sporting perspective, I would like to see globalization taken seriously.''

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