Peru was the final team to qualify for the World Cup, defeating New Zealand in the interconfederation playoff November 15th to make the world’s biggest tournament for the first time since 1982. Still, Peruvian news outlet Libero is reporting that a new law under consideration in their congress would place their football federation under the control of Peru’s institute of sport. This would go against FIFA’s mandate that soccer federations operate independently of the national government and that there’s no government interference in the running of the sport. If FIFA banned Peru, that would preclude them from participating in any FIFA-sanctioned tournament.
So, if this wild scenario happened, who would take Peru’s place? Well, FIFA has the right to pick any team they want to replace Peru. From CONMEBOL, the obvious choice would be Chile, the two-time defending Copa America champions and Confederations Cup finalists who inexplicably tanked late to miss out on the World Cup. However, Italian newspaper Tuttosport thinks FIFA could call in Italy, the 4-time World Cup champions who missed the World Cup for the first time since 1958. Still, the New Zealand Herald believes that the United States would be in the mix due to the fact that the nation (through Fox) has dropped over $200M for the World Cup TV rights and because Americans travel in droves to the World Cup.
It would be a travesty if Peru, a nation who is returning to the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, would have to give that up because of an ill-advised law. It would be even sadder for Italy, Chile, or the USMNT to be added to the World Cup essentially due to FIFA preferential treatment as well. In any case, the World Cup is the World Cup and I’m sure players on those teams won’t care how they are let into the tournament as long as they get to play. This situation will certainly be one to watch as we approach the World Cup draw on December 1st.