Blatter - Africa should have extra place
CAIRO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called for African countries to be given an extra sixth place when South Africa hosts the 2010 World Cup.
Africa will have five representatives when the 2006 tournament in Germany kicks off in June, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Angola, Tunisia and Togo, and will be hosting the finals for the first time in four years time.
Although soccer's ruling body FIFA has not finalised whether South Africa will cost the continent a place at 2010 or will add an extra sixth slot, Blatter made it clear on Wednesday he favoured the latter option.
Highlighting that five African countries would be alongside 14 from Europe in Germany, Blatter told the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Congress: 'I don't need to explain the rules of mathematics.
'Those with a bigger representation will automatically, and perhaps even logically, have a better chance.
'What must be done? You have to fight on the pitch and I can assure you we will continue to fight for a better African representation at the World Cup,' he said as applause broke out among delegates.
Looking ahead to the 2010 finals, Blatter later told a news conference: 'It's now for Africans to fight for maintaining their quota of five teams, plus the organising country.
'The five countries who are going to be in Germany have to show the quality and strength of African football on the pitch.
'After that there will be an executive committee meeting and a big discussion as to how the 32 places for 2010 are going to be distributed. But let's first wait for the results of 2006.
'I am personally favourable to Africa keeping the five places it has and that it (also) obtains the organisers's slot.'
Blatter said earlier sceptics who had predicted a World Cup in Africa would generate less money than previous tournaments had been proved wrong and said South Africa would be a bigger success than Germany.
'The market has not been mistaken, it's the prophets who have made a mistake,' Blatter told congress delegates.
'The 2010 World Cup, with most of the contracts we have reached with television and sponsors, will bring in more money than that of 2006.
'That means that football is an excellent product...that the FIFA World Cup is even bigger because it has a bigger audience than the Olympic Games, everyone wants to be there, and thirdly, and for me the most important thing, it means people have confidence in Africa.
'The whole world will be behind this World Cup.'
Blatter said extra money would be available for football development programmes, including an initiative to enable young talented African players to have a career on their own continent, rather than move to Europe.
'Obviously, you'll still need a few stars elsewhere in the world but not the hundreds and thousands who play in the second or third divisions in other countries,' he said.