World Cup allocation to remain unchanged, Blatter confirms
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has confirmed there will be no changes to the upcoming World Cup tournaments in relation to qualification and allocation of regional places.
Speaking a day after he was re-elected for a fifth term at the helm of football's world governing body, the 79-year-old insisted the sport's global showpiece would not be altered.
Russia will stage the 2018 competition before Qatar hosts four years later, and Blatter explained the allocation of 32 places at the finals will remain the same.
Europe will therefore retain 13 qualifying places, with Africa keeping five. South America and Asia will each have four automatic qualifiers, with their fifth-placed nations entering play-offs with countries from CONCACAF (three automatic qualifiers) and Oceania, who remain without an automatic route to the World Cup. The host nations will complete the respective line-ups.
"This morning we [the FIFA Executive Committee] had an excellent meeting," said Blatter. "Among other things we decided that the slots of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup would not change.
"So, we will stick to 32 teams and the same distribution [of places from across the confederations] accepted by everybody, although some were more grumpy than others.
"Furthermore, in relation to the 2026 World Cup, we decided that all associations in FIFA can ask to host except those who are in the continent of the 2022 hosts – in other words Asia.
"All the other confederations will be able to present bids."
Blatter won Friday's presidential election at the FIFA Congress in Zurich after winning 133 votes in the first ballot against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
Prince Ali withdrew before the second round of voting, having only received support from 73 member nations.