Asia retains its 4.5 places for 2010 World Cup

Then Asian Football Confederation has retained its four-and-a-half places for the 2010 World Cup finals, FIFA decided during a board meeting in Zurich. The football governing body decided not to dock a berth for South Africa 2010 from Asia, which did not have a single team reach the second round at Germany this summer. Asian champion Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia were all eliminated in the group phase. "I thought Europe would be given an extra berth," Kozo Tashima, general secretary of the Japan Football Association, told The Yomiuri Shimbun. "It's a very good thing Asia did not lose a place."

Europe will have 13 places, Africa 5, South America 4-1/2 and North & Central America, Caribbean (CONCACAF) 3-1/2. South Africa automatically qualifies as the host.

The playoff format for a potential fifth slot against the Oceania Football Confederation remains undetermined. Oceania could be included in the Asian qualifiers altogether, or the region's first-place team could play off against the fifth-place team from Asia. For the 2006 World Cup, Bahrain, Asia's fifth-place team, played off against Trinidad & Tobago, the fourth-place CONCACAF team. Trinidad & Tobago won over two legs to reach its first World Cup.

The Oceania Football Federation and New Zealand officials have been lobbying FIFA to get a play-off against Asian opposition instead of the feared play-off against the fifth team in South America.