February 9, 2017 / 12:28 PM / 10 months ago

UEFA to ask for 16 places at expanded 2026 World Cup

BERLIN (Reuters) - Europe wants 16 places at the expanded 48-team 2026 World Cup finals, Aleksander Ceferin, the president of the continent’s soccer organisation UEFA, said on Thursday.

A logo is pictured on a backdrop before a news conference after an UEFA Executive Board meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The game’s governing body, FIFA, decided last month to add 16 teams at the finals with a first round of 16 groups of three. The top two in each group would qualify for the knockout stage.

“...we think, to ask for 16 slots at least (for European teams), plus another condition that each European team is in a different group,” Ceferin told a news conference after UEFA’s executive committee meeting in Nyon, Switzerland.

“Then if it’s true that we are so good, that the quality is on our side, then I think that all 16 (European teams) can qualify in the second round...”

Thirteen European teams qualified for the last World Cup in Brazil in 2014, which was won by Germany.

FIFA is expected to confirm the quotas for each continental governing body at meetings in Bahrain in May.

Meanwhile, future UEFA presidents will be limited to a maximum of three terms and a total of 12 years in the job, the European soccer body said after its executive committee approved a set of governance reforms.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin attends a news conference after an Executive Board meeting in Nyon, Switzerland, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Past presidents of the organisation had no such restrictions, with former chief Lennart Johansson in charge for a full 17 years.

Ceferin, who replaced disgraced Frenchman Michel Platini in September, has pledged to reform the organisation.

UEFA said part of the reforms approved by the executive committee was the “introduction of term limits for the UEFA President and members of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the possibility to serve for a maximum of 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,” Ceferin said.

“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.”

The reforms will now need to be ratified at a UEFA congress on April 5 in Finland.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann and Ken Ferris; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis

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