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UEFA boss wants 16 Euro teams at World Cup

dpa logodpa 27/02/2017

UEFA will "make things quite complicated", should the European soccer federation not receive 16 places for the expanded World Cup from 2026.

UEFA president Alekansder Ceferin has threatened consequences will follow should the European soccer federation not receive 16 places for the expanded World Cup from 2026.

"Sixteen teams and each European team in a different group is the red line," Ceferin said in an interview with the New York Times published on Monday. "That is what we will insist on."

The World Cup will have 48 teams from 2026 onwards, up from the current 32. Europe presently receives 13 spots.

"That will happen, or we will make things quite complicated," said Ceferin, who backed the 50 per cent expansion along with his European colleagues at a FIFA council meeting in January.

Ceferin did say some associations had suggested Europe demand even more spots, though he was reluctant to push this.

"I said that we should be realistic. To say that we want half the teams at the World Cup would look arrogant to me," he said. The places are likely to be decided at the FIFA congress in Bahrain this May.

The United States ambitions of hosting the expanded event in 2026 could be damaged by President Donald Trump's policy on restricting immigration, Ceferin warned.

"It will be part of the evaluation, and I am sure it will not help the United States to get the World Cup," he said. "If players cannot come because of political decisions, or populist decisions, then the World Cup cannot be played there.

"It is true for the United States, but also for all the other countries that would like to organise a World Cup."

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