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Africa SWC places not at risk

2010-06-28 13:39
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke. (AP)
Johannesburg - FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke insists there are no plans to reduce Africa's allocation of places at future World Cup finals despite a poor showing from the continent's teams in South Africa.

Five of the six African nations are already out, with Ghana flying the flag for the continent against the United States in the last 16.

However, Valcke was adamant they would not lose places at future tournaments as a result and said: "There is no discussion about slots for the future, we have 32 teams and we will have a meeting of the organising committee of the 2014 World Cup when we will discuss the rules and regulations, but there is no discussion at all about the number of slots per confederation. Anyone who is saying that is wrong.

"We need to continue supporting African football. There isn't any discussion or reaction of that sort to say we won't have the same number of (African) teams next time around."

One area where FIFA is planning further discussion and experimentation is with additional assistant referees, with a view to possibly introducing this for the 2014 World Cup.

UEFA trialled the use of assistant referees behind the goals during the 2009-10 Europa League.

Valcke said: "We can talk about refereeing decisions which, when you looked at them after the game, you could say were perhaps not good decisions. We didn't say you could have a zero fault system in the World Cup.

"Additional assistants could happen in 2014 to make sure these kind of things are not happening in refereeing.

"It doesn't mean the use of video, that is definitely not on the table today, but one thing we are discussing is two additional assistants to support referees to make decision-making easier and to have more eyes helping him to make such decisions.

"We knew this is where criticism would come."

Valcke felt the group phase of the tournament had proved that the other continents were catching up with Europe.

He claimed that Europe's relatively weaker performance in the group phase could have something to do with the arduous European club season and he revealed that discussions would be held with the 32 World Cup coaches after the tournament regarding any ways that could be found to increase preparation time for teams in future.

"This World Cup has shown that Asia is stronger, South America is very very strong, we have the USA playing very well and it shows that Europe is not as strong as they were in the past," he said.

"Some teams have not moved and not changed since 2006 and it shows also that these players have played a lot of games but most of the Brazil and Argentina players play in Europe."

At the halfway point of this tournament Jordaan and Valcke were generally happy with how it had gone from an organisational standpoint.

Valcke admitted there had been transport issues surrounding the opening match at Soccer City on June 11 but the FIFA man was pleased with how everything had been on track since that point.

"On organisational levels, if on July 11 (the day of the final) we are at the same level as we are today then it's a perfect World Cup, we are beyond all expectations," he said.

FIFA were constantly asked before the tournament whether they had a plan B in place should South Africa fail to be ready in time, but Valcke said: "We will be able to say after the World Cup that South Africa will be the plan B for any future organisers of the World Cup."

Valcke also revealed there would be discussions with the 32 teams and Adidas regarding the Jabulani ball, which has been criticised in some quarters.

He said: "Our relationship with Adidas is very constructive and there is nothing more important in a World Cup than the ball, if there are problems with the ball we will discuss it with them."
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