“The Asian continent, given that it’s the biggest
continent in the world, deserves a significant
increase in its current World Cup slots, given it’s
big economic power, and the immense popularity
of the sport in Asia, and also the increasing
development in the different aspects of the
game,” he said in an email interview.
FIFA’s decision in January to expand the World
Cup from 32 nations to 48 “allows many national
teams to reach the world event for the first time,
and will reflect on the development of the game
worldwide,” he added.
But he warned that the distribution of slots must
be based on “clear and transparent foundations.”
“We have previously expressed our full support to
the decision of raising the number of teams at the
World Cup to 48 as of 2026, given the strategic
importance of such a decision in developing
different aspects of football.”
Sheikh Salman declined to put a figure on Asia’s
demands at the expanded World Cup although
experts say it could be as high as eight.
Asia’s football boss also expressed approval for
massive Chinese spending on big name transfers
from Europe and South America.
He said the trend “sheds light on Asia, and
highlights its growing presence on the
international map, and helps in bringing big media
and marketing benefits.”
Chinese clubs have splashed out fortunes for top
international talent including Chelsea midfielder
Oscar who moved to Shanghai SIPG and
Argentine striker Carlos Tevez, who joined city
rivals Shanghai Shenhua.
He warned, however, that the arrival of top
players must not come at the expense of the
homegrown talent and hinder the development of
the game in China.