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FIFA announces 'no changes' to 2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup will stay a 32-team tournament with FIFA not making any changes to the share of regional slots among the six participating continents. Europe and South America feared cuts to their berths.

Following talks between soccer's global governing body and club executives, newly re-elected FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Saturday there would be "no change" to the 2022 World Cup tournament.

The decision by FIFA's executive committee means Europe will retain 13 places at the Qatar event, with Africa having five.

UEFA, the European soccer body, President Michel Platini warned Thursday that reducing the number of European teams at the World Cup finals "was a red line that must not be crossed."

Four places will be given to South America and Asia with a chance at a playoff.

The confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football will have three places with a playoff chance, while the winners from Oceania will enter a playoff.

As the 2022 host nation, Qatar will automatically qualify.

In 2013, Blatter announced he wanted Africa and Asia to have more places in the World Cup competition.

Blatter confirmed a long-standing rule on that Friday one continent cannot host the World Cup twice in a row, which rules out a 2026 bid by China.

"In accordance with FIFA statutes…member associations from the Asian Football Confederation would not be able to bid for 2026," a FIFA statement said.

jlw/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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