Appearances of bias in World Football

Edwin  - CEO December 3, 2023
Updated 2023/12/04 at 7:19 PM
29 Min Read
Zurich, Switzerland - May 28, 2011: Entry to the headquarter of the world football association FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland

Posers for FIFA from Africa’s feat at the Women’s World Cup 2023


750+ Fifa Pictures | Download Free Images on UnsplashFIFA

By Ed Emeanua


FIFA Women's World Cup 2023: USWNT photos from New ZealandDefending champions USWNT players cut a forlorn picture following their ouster from Australia and New Zealand


The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup 2023 has come and gone, but pertinent results from this edition of the tournament presents several difficult posers to lengthy biases in world Football.


Also dubbed Australia & New Zealand 2023, the championship is more beknown for it’s several historical inventories, most notable are landmark feats by the African representatives at this edition of Women’s football mundiālis.


The event equally unearthed several revealing moments with the majority of them going to the credit of the always dismissed and often derided continent.


The underlying implication remains that some of these new developments now present a fresh embarrassment for FIFA’s faulty fundamental approaches towards disadvantaged confederations in its membership.


First, lets perform a postmortem of standout moments from the edition. The championship, which took place between 20 July through 20 August 2023, was jointly hosted by the pair of Australia and New Zealand. This in itself, is certainly historic.


The 2023 version of the tournament for senior women’s national teams became the first of its kind to be so co-hosted by two countries from dual confederations, since Australia is in the Asian confederation and New Zealand is out of Oceanian.


Women's World Cup 2023 opening ceremony focuses on First ...


The just concluded FIFA Women’s tournament has turned out to be quite a formidable platform for shattering both national and world footballing records.


Among these indelible marks that have now been embedded in the sands of time is the fact that the just ended Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia docked five outstanding star players in the event for clocking a speed of 33 km per-hour on a radar speed gun.


Racheal Kundananji (33.2) of Zambia, kalyssa van Zanten (33.0) out of Jamaica, Lynn Williams (33.0) from USA, Thembi Kgatlana (33.0) of South Africa, and Florencia Bonsegundo of Argentina, were the fastest Women stars at the tournament.


It is noteworthy that, two of them are out of CAF (Africa)-this very mainland that world football has since given up for lost.


Two others among these fast women played out of CONCACAF (North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Then, one out of the lot, represented the confederation of CONMEBOL (South America) at Australia and New Zealand 2023 (@FIFAWWC).


Before we go any further, let’s reckon with the most important achievement of all. Without doubt, it belongs to the confederation of UEFA. Congratulations Spain, England, and Sweden for placing first, second, and third in that order at the end of the competition. BRAVO!


FIFA Women's World Cup 2023: Benee and Mallrat at the Opening Ceremony – WWD


But since to whom much has been given, very much more harvesting is expected, UEFA’s superior placement at any of FIFA’S events are inherently questionable since, without any rationalistic justification, FIFA’s major events are simply tilted to favor the European continent in numbers of entrants allowable alone.


This alone tilts the odds of winning any version of FIFA’s events heavily in Europe’s favor even before the first kick of the round leather object. This exponentially inflates UEFA’s chances of emerging winners at every one of FIFA’s events despite the fact that these contests at FIFA’S major events continue to prove that any of the teams taking part in them are beatable. For instance, during last year’s FIFA Senior Men’s World Cup, Iran beat mighty Argentina during the Group rounds to record a major upset.


Shocker number two; the beaten La Albiceleste, were overall winners at Qatar 2022 Men’s World Cup championship. And who did Argentina defeat to win it? Vatreni of Croatia were walloped 3-0 by the South Americans in the semifinals, while mighty France capitulated to the superiority of Albiceleste 4-2 via penalty shootout after their regulation time 3-3 tie.


In 1990, the expectation of world football for Cameroon at Italia ’90 Men’s World Cup were rather low and the majority felt that the Indomitable Lions would peter out in the group stage. Rather, the Africans topped their group, shocking reigning champions Argentina with a 1-0 victory, and whipped Romania 2-1 to qualify to the next stage, although they succumbed 4-0 to the Soviet Union in their final group stage game.


ImageCameroon’s players celebrate joying after Roger Miller ‘s Second goal against Colombia in World Cup ITALIA 90 at Napoli, Cameroon 2-1 Colombia, 23/6/1990 Photo by Masahide Tomikoshi / TOMIKOSHI PHOTOGRAPHY

ITA: World Cup 1990 - Cameroon v ColombiaCameroonian star Roger Miller is a true legend in football. Not only was he the key player in ensuring Cameroon made it to the quarterfinals of the 1990 World Cup he was one of the first to dance. Milla was one of the first people to celebrate a goal in style in 1990 when he ran up to the corner flag and did a jig. After that footballers from around the world came up with creative ways to celebrate their goals. The moment was so iconic the 2010 Coca-Cola campaign was focused on celebrating the Roger Milla dance.

Colombia legend Rene Higuita using 1990 World Cup blunder to fight coronavirus - ESPN

Pause, rewind, play: Roger Milla, Cameroon's 1990 WC hero who changed goal celebrations forever

World Cup Wonder: Roger Milla's 1990 goal and celebration against Colombia

tphoto on X: "Cameroon's Roger Miller(9) beats Colombia's goal keeper Rene Higuita(1) scoring his second goal on 108min. in extra time in World Cup ITALIA 90 at Napoli, Cameroon 2-1 Colombia, Photo

90s Football on X: "Roger Milla vs René Higuita." / X


Morocco have now made it to the final stages of the FIFA World Cup on six occasions. These were in 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2018 and 2022. The Atlas Lions’ outstanding tournament was in 2022 when they finished in fourth place, thereby becoming both the first African and Arab nation to make it to the semi-final of a World Cup.


Atlas Lions were unbeaten during the group phase of the 1986 version of the FIFA Men’s World Cup and topped Group F. Going from two scoreless draws against Poland (0-0) and England (0-0), legendary goalkeeper Badou Zaki led his famous squad to a famous defeat of Portugal 3-1 in Mexico.


The national football side of South Korea progressed to the semifinals at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, reached the round of 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and grabbed the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in 2012.


South Korea’s course to the semi-finals in 2002 beating Poland, Portugal, Italy and Spain to get there. In so doing, The Reds emerged as the first team from outside of the UEFA, CONMEBOL, and CONCACAF regions and one of the first Asian sides (along with Turkey in this World Cup) to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup.


Reds bounced Italy and Spain out in the round of 16 and quarter-finals, respectively, and emerged the first team outside Europe and the Americas to reach the semi-finals of a Senior FIFA World Cup.


In South Africa, Reds had their best World Cup aside 2002 by making the Round of 16 but eventually crashed out after succumbing to a 2-1 defeat to Uruguay from a Luis Suarez brace. In the entire event, South Korea notched score six goals, five of them in the group stage alone. Ironically, none of Reds’ goals were scored by K League players.


How The 2002 World Cup Became The Most Controversial ...

A fiery South Korea, a toothless Italy, and the howls of corruption at the 2002 World Cup

News Focus) S. Korea to start 2022 World Cup quest with Paulo Bento | Yonhap News Agency


This only goes to show that the notion of invincibility relative to any nation or confederation in world cup football, or football at any level, is only a theory on paper but practically impossible. Football is a game, and as such, nobody can predict the outcome of a football match within the confines of certainty. Therefore, for FIFA to glaringly apply the notion of regional superiority as it currently does in World football to elevate its European affiliates above all else, is based on bias.


FIFA World ranking is only another Russ to step down on discriminated affiliates and raise up favored confederacies in its rank and file. World ranking of national football teams is a smokescreen to perpetrate bias against particular regions and teams.


Just as the claim of superiority of any race is a fallacy and the figment of the imagination of people that reason along that line, the idea of international ranking is a systemic approach to authentic supremacist world views in sports. The format itself for basing points in FIFA ranking is skewed in favor of particular regions and zones over others.


Therefore, FIFA’s decision to allot different number of places like it currently does in major football finals to zones under its jurisdiction based on the numbers and relative strengths of confederations’ teams is very problematic.

Granted that the total of 32 Women’s national teams representing FIFA’s six confederacies made it to the last Women’s World Cup championship, (and this is up from the 24 sides that took part at the last tournament in France in 2019), with only 16 of them eventually making it to the knockout stages after the group rounds, the ration of groups qualifiers to the number of representatives from participating confederations is lie another pointer to the skewed nature of FIFA’s allocation of world cup places to its confederations.


Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Nigeria, Japan, Spain, England, Denmark, Netherlands, USA, France, Jamaica, Sweden, South Africa, Colombia and Morocco all qualified for the Round of 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.


It is notable that out of the 4 direct representatives of Africa, three of them made it to the second round or round of 16, while out of the 11 European direct qualifiers for the 2023 games, just 8 of them qualified from the group zones. The Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia is also the only time more than one country from Africa has made it to the round of 16.


Nigeria vs Australia (3-2), FIFA Women's World Cup 2023, Highlights & All Goals - YouTube


The revelation that just 8 of 11 UEFA representations made it out of the group zones, while 3 from 4 of Africa’s did, flaws FIFA’s rationalization for adopting its current unequal allotment of qualifying slots for the Women’s World cup in favor of Europe.


To whom much is given, very much is also expected. Having the majority of slots qualifying for a tournament, it is given that the region of Europe should without debate produce the largest chunk of teams that make it out of group plays into the knockout rounds at every major competition. This in itself is a bias and gives undue advantage to UEFA.


This equally concedes undue advantage to Europe as it makes the continent enter major football events with the highest opportunity to advance from each stage of the tournament as well as winning the championship based on numerical strength alone. This obvious inequality in the size of zonal representation is intentionally done to give undue advantage to Europeans.



SOCCER: FIFA Women's World Cup draw 2023 infographic



For a confederation like CAF with 54 individual national membership to be allotted just 4 direct representation at a FIFA Senior tournament of 32 national participants, and UEFA with 55 member nations disproportionately ceded 11 direct entrants, this is quite audacious to say the least.


That a confederation like CAF with just 4 direct slots ceded to it could gatecrash 3 of those representations into the next round, against the UEFA’s 8 going through out of 11 inputs make nonsense of all FIFA furtherance of its baseless rationalization of superiority or higher quality of team play in conceding such an imbalance in number of representation to the European continent going forward.


Moreso, since Europe can account for just 2 victories out of the 8 past winners of the competition, FIFA should rethink its orthodoxy for conceding to UEFA such an undue advantage in representations at its subsequent tournaments for Women’s and Men’s national teams.


For the records, while CONCACAF, a confederation with only 41 members and 4 direct qualifying slots allotted to it, has won the event a record four times through the United States (who were also the current champions before the event) having emerged victorious at the 2019 tournament in France, the other winners are Germany, notably with two titles to its name, Japan, and Norway, with one title each.


This means that out of the three times UEFA have won the tournament despite enjoying unduly significant advantage in representations at each event, only two countries out of its 55 member nations have managed to come tops.


On the other hand, Asia confederation with 47 member countries have won the event once through the effort of the Women’s national team of Japan.


Observers of the ongoing tournament would have also noticed a marked improvement in officiating between this version and past events of the Women’s World Cup. This is largely due to a major shift directed at proper usage of the  video assistant referee (VAR). During the 2019 version, VAR usage was highly contentious and led to several controversial decisions that favored mostly European representatives and other selected confederations during the event. However, during the last tournament, VAR usage was significantly fair to all teams.


One can then wonder whether the improvement in VAR usage translated to the kind of marked improvement in overall refereeing of the matches, and contributed largely to the historical upsets we all saw unfurling everywhere at Australia and New Zealand 2023?


The VAR controversy goes to 11 - RSL Soapbox


The VAR controversy goes to 11 – RSL Soapbox


Women’s World Cup: Soccer fans rage over VAR costing France a goal versus S. Korea at Women’s World Cup 2019


VAR needs to chill' - Fans feel VAR going too far after yet another controversial decision at Women's World Cup |


VAR needs to chill’ – Fans feel VAR going too far after yet another controversial decision at Women’s World Cup 2019


Fifa Women's World Cup 2019: Call for male refs is as tone deaf as complaints about VAR | South China Morning Post


Fifa Women’s World Cup 2019: Call for male refs is as tone deaf as complaints about VAR | South China Morning Post


FIFA Women's World Cup 2019: VAR penalty controversy in France vs Nigeria, Wendie Renard, Melissa Borjas


FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019: VAR penalty controversy in France vs Nigeria, Wendie Renard, Melissa Borjas


Star Lauren James' dirty World Cup play nearly costs England win vs. Nigeria

Star Lauren James’ dirty World Cup play nearly costs England win vs. Nigeria in 2023. In 2019, it is debatable that VAR officials would have even agreed to take another look at this incidence since the offense was not the other way around


At France 2029, it appeared to World Cup fans that VAR was simply weaponized to weed out perceived pre-tournament also-rans from the pre-competition favorites, without proper consideration for the element of surprise that is the hallmark of creating real champions.


In one of the most bizarre moments of the game that has ever been witnessed at a World Cup championship, the Cameroon players refused to continue with their game against England in protest against a VAR decision that was called in the Lionesses of England’s favor.


This very game, for all it was worth to historic importance, would eventually be remembered only for the Indomitable Lionesses’ protests to the Chinese referee and the African team’s ultimate decision to abandon that game over disagreement with VAR decision against them.


As the Cameroonians exited in the last 16 round for the second successive Women’s World Cup finals, this sad incident brought the African hope in France to a painful end (Fox Sports, June 24, 2019 1.19 pm).


Chinese referee Qin Liang was ultimately pinned to the middle of the most controversial game in the annals of FIFA Women’s World Cup at France 2019, (and perhaps, the most controversial FIFA World Cup event ever), in a round of 16 encounter involving the teams of UEFA’s England and CAF’s Cameroon (South China Morning Post, June 24, 2019).


The Cameroon players protested after a VAR decision went against them

The Cameroon players protested after a VAR decision went against them


Cameroon's Ninon Abena and teammates remonstrate with referee Qin Liang after the match. Photo: Reuters

Cameroon’s Ninon Abena and teammates remonstrate with referee Qin Liang after the match. Photo: Reuters


In France four years ago, right at the get, it appeared that FIFA’s goal was centered on the self-defeating mission of ultimately separating the wheat from the shaft at all cost.


With the help of VAR, and some unscrupulous men and women without conscience who manned these machines, the World Football Federation saw to it that less fancied teams were viciously eliminated before the watchful eyes of a shocked football universe. As a result of such biased officiating from central officials in connivance of VAR operatives, and their FIFA co-conspirators, these individuals behaved as if the chief mantra was the ‘World be the damned’.


But to their chagrin, the Football universe simply refused to be damned and let them have it with their whistles and boos chilling the overall atmosphere of France. The stench out of France from the shameful officiating that marred what should have been a wonderful tournament, was rather very disgusting and disturbing.


In their hopelessness, albeit, sheer consternation, the Football Universe could only but protest with such vociferous boos and jocular whistling against the appalling officiating at France 2019 that FIFA allowed to befall vulnerable footballing nations.


African nations in particular, were targeted for early elimination with VAR operators always giving the benefit of doubt against them and other teams deemed of lesser importance, no matter how ludicrous thier decisions were.


Ultimately, their actions, with the connivance of willing central officials at France 2019, denied fledgling female senior national sides their fair share of showcasing their football talents, and allow them to give these so called Super powers of Women’s football, a deserved run for their money.


Jamaica reaches knockout round for the first time, eliminating Marta's Brazil at Women's World Cup


Jamaica reached the knockout rounds for the first time, eliminating Marta’s Brazil at the Women’s World Cup in the process 


Jamaica reaches knockout round for the first time, eliminating Marta's Brazil at Women's World Cup


Marta's World Cup career ends after Jamaica eliminate Brazil - ESPN


How Marta’s World Cup dreams turned to disaster vs. Jamaica


Shock and sadness in Rio favela after Brazil's early elimination from Women's World Cup


Shock and sadness in Rio favela after Brazil’s early elimination from Women’s World Cup


Four years on, and with a change in attitude for the better from VAR and match officials, herein lie some of the historical results of this world cup; Jamaica eliminating Brazil at the Group stage without conceding a single goal enroute to their round 16 qualification. Such a feat was inconceivable at France 2019 thanks to a biased VAR ensemble and jaundiced central referees.


Morocco shattering history in several ways but one including their 1-0 triumph over much hyped South Korea in the Women’s World Cup on Sunday, July 27, in Adelaide, Australia.


Morocco players celebrate following the Women's World Cup Group H soccer match between South Korea and Morocco in Adelaide, Australia, Sunday, July 30, 2023. (AP Photo/James Elsby)


Thanks to match officials and VAR operators who allowed the spirit of fair-play to reign this time around, the wiry, tiny, but nifty Moroccan Women’s national team, despite being the unsung debutants they were called, were simply majestic in giving mighty South Korea a run for their money in Women’s World Cup football of all games.


When all was said and done, after 90 minutes of end-to-end brain and brawn filled footballing extravaganza, the final score-Morocco 1-0 South Korea-might have shocked some. But to all and sundry who actually witnessed this game, the Atlas Lionesses’ slim victory over Taegeuk Nangja was very well earned.


While at it, Atlas Lionesses defender Nouhaila Benzina created a much more peculiar record for becoming the first ever player to wear a Hijab in a World Cup game at the senior level, just as her teammate Ibtissam Jraïdi became the first woman to score for Morocco at the World Cup. However, glaringly of broader importance here is that nobody questioned the officiating as all these unfurled.


Morocco's Nouhaila Benzina gestures during the Women's World Cup Group H soccer match between South Korea and Morocco in Adelaide, Australia, Sunday, July 30, 2023. (AP Photo/James Elsby)

Morocco's Benzina becomes the first senior-level Women's World Cup player to compete in hijab | AP News

Morocco's Benzina becomes the first senior-level Women's World Cup player to compete in hijab | AP News

Morocco's Benzina Makes History With Hijab At Women's World Cup - 9jadailyfeeds


Morocco makes history in famous 1-0 defeat of South Korea at Women’s World Cup, Nouhaila Benzina became first woman player to wear a Hijab in a World Cup game at the senior level | AP News


Morocco's Nouhaila Benzina (R), made history when she became the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup in her side's victory against South Korea Stadium in Adelaide on 30 July 2023 (AFP)

Women’s World Cup 2023: Morocco’s success inspires the region Adelaide on 30 July 2023 (AFP)


Nouhaila Benzina: Morocco secures first Women's World Cup win as defender makes history | CNN


Nouhaila Benzina: Morocco secures first Women’s World Cup win as defender makes history | CNN


Some might have thought that Morocco’s feat against South Korea was a fluke. Well to them that doubt is apportioned more disappointment. On Thursday, August 3, 2023, Anissa Lahmari’s 45+4′ strike against Colombia at the Perth Rectangular Stadium, Australia, was enough to hand the Atlas Lionesses their second consecutive victory at the World Cup.


It also assured that the 72nd raked Morocco became the lowest side to advance to the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup. Morocco’s feat brought more excitement and no dull moments to World Women’s football. FIFA prospered and so did Women’s football fare with a better appearance.


Something that is certain is that Morocco’s success would inspire women in the Arab and Middle East region to take to football. This is a plus for the game and to FIFA especially.


Morocco beat South Korea for first Women's World Cup win


Morocco beat South Korea for first ever Women’s World Cup win


S. Korea fall to Morocco at Women's World Cup, knockout hopes hang in balance


S. Korea fall to Morocco at Women’s World Cup, with their knockout hopes hanging in the balance


Morocco players celebrate their victory after the end of the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women's World Cup Group H football match between South Korea and Morocco at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide on July 30, 2023Morocco players celebrate their World Cup group match victory over South Korea in Adelaide on 30 July 2023 (AFP)


More Women football stars were born in Australia and New Zealand and notably, none died. All these thanks to much improved officiating which allowed the game to thrive under increased competition and freedom of footballers to demonstrate their skills.


This should demonstrate to the demagogues of hatred, supporters and perpetrators of discrimination, that division only slows down growth. The differences we all possess when harnessed for the the general good is awesome.


The Brazilian sublime footballing skills is rather unique to Brazil-iants and may elude the capabilities of a Nigerian, Cameroonian, or Ghanaian football star. But no Brazil-iant footballer dead or alive can sustain the intensity of the robust nature of Nigerian, Ghanaian, or Cameroonian football. Football should not be fettered by bias and bad officiating. These drawbacks should be removed from the equation. Its only purpose is to curtail the CAF-ness, AFC-ness, CONCACAF-ness and OFC-ness and CONMEBOL-ness on display in major FIFA tournaments.




AFP with Staff Writers from Fox Sports. (2019). World Cup meltdown: Cameroon ‘refuse to play’ in protest of VAR. Fox Sports, June 24th, 2019 1:19 pm.


FIFA Women’s World Cup (@FIFAWWC) · Twitter. (2023). 𝐅𝐢𝐯𝐞 players reached a speed of 33 km/h at the 2023 #FIFAWWC. FIFA Women’s World Cup @FIFAWWC,


White, J. (2019). Fifa Women’s World Cup: Chinese referee accused of racism and ‘wanting England to win’ by Cameroon. South China Morning Post, June 24, 2019,  3:33pm.

Please follow and like us:
Share this Article
Leave a comment