UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will officially request at least 16 spots for European teams in FIFA's expanded World Cup format. He also announced some of his planned reforms for the European confederation.
Speaking after an executive meeting in Nyon, Switzerland on Thursday, Ceferin announced that he will formally ask FIFA, football's governing body, to offer at least 16 slots for members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) in the new 48-team World Cup format.
FIFA decided in January to expand its 2026 tournament from 32 teams to 48, with the group stage comprising 16 groups of three teams, two of whom will advance to the knockout rounds. FIFA plans to confirm continental entry quotas for the competition at meetings in Bahrain in May.
"We think it's realistic to ask for 16 slots plus another condition that each European is in a different group," said Ceferin. The condition would ensure no European teams meet in the group stage.
UEFA received 13 slots in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. They have had as many as 15 slots since the tournament expanded to 32 teams in 1998. European countries have won four of the five 32-team World Cups since 1998, with the 2002 Brazil team being the only non-European champion.
Term limits for the executive committee
UEFA also announced on Thursday that it has approved a set of governance reforms, the most prominent of which limits executive committee members, including the UEFA president, to three four-year terms.
Other changes include granting two member positions on its Executive Committee to representatives of the European Club Association (ECA). Candidates for election on the committee must also hold an active office in their respective national association.
"I am very pleased that the executive committee gave a unanimous backing to reforms I consider essential for the strengthening of UEFA," said Ceferin, who took over from disgraced former UEFA president Michel Platini in 2016. "I am convinced that our member associations will also endorse these good governance proposals to create a stronger and more transparent governing body for the good of European football."
Germany stands alone in Euro 2024 bid
Ceferin also confirmed that Germany are the only bidders for the right to host the 2024 European Championship. The UEFA deadline for hosting bids is on March 3. Ceferin added, "I hope someone else will join."
The German football association (DFB) formally agreed to bid for the tournament in January. Ceferin said he has yet to receive the bid, but the country had "good infrastructure" to host the 24-team competition.
Turkey is reportedly another candidate to host the tournament. Nordic nations Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden are also supposedly contemplating a joint bid for either the 2024 tournament or the one in 2028.
dv/mp (AP, Reuters, dpa)