Southern Times Writer
Tshwane – Although Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe has – for now – remained vague as regards his feelings on the push to hold the FIFA World Cup every two years rather than after four years, the debate has quickly become a focal point ahead of the Qatar 2022 showcase.
The idea of a biennial world cup, as opposed to the current four-year set up, is gaining traction in Europe with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and director of development Arsene Wenger emerging as the chief lobbyists.
But in a rather indefinite statement, Motsepe encouraged but said any decision should be in the interests of football development.
Said the CAF supremo: “CAF is of the view that at this stage, what is most important, is for the discussions and deliberations to continue taking place in an openminded manner and with the objective of doing what is in the best interest of all member associations, the confederations, football players and other stakeholders.
“CAF is deeply committed to the development, growth and success of football in Africa and the rest of the world.”
None of the CAF member associations from the Cosafa region are yet to declare an official position on the subject, and perhaps this is why Motsepe, whose power base lies in Southern Africa, is coy about showing his hand.
It is also clear that for now, Motsepe – who on 17 September met with Cameroon government officials in Yaoundé to discuss preparations for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations – has more urgent administrative matters to attend to.
The silence of Cosafa member associations on the proposal suggests they are more preoccupied with their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaigns as well as ensuring that domestic football leagues, hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, are resuscitated.
Efforts to strengthen regional tournaments such as the Cosafa Cup, as vehicles to develop football, have also been more prominent in football administrative discourse.
Additionally, Southern Africa’s football development thrust has traditionally been more focused on lobbying FIFA to increase the number of World Cup slots reserved for African teams from the current five, than on when the tournament should be held.
Recently, former Zambia men’s coach Patrice Beaumelle said continuing with five African representatives at the World Cup was an injustice.
He argued that with 54 associations represented in FIFA, Africa did not deserve to have an almost similar number of slots as South America, which has 10 associations and four guaranteed World Cup places.
Beaumelle, who is now coaching Cote d’Ivoire, blamed this “limited exposure” to Africa’s poor showing during the 2018 World Cup where the continent’s five representatives crashed out in the first round.