UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino speaks to journalists during a press conference in Vienna
JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
UEFA has announced it wants an extra place to be given to a European country at World Cup finals.
Europe currently has 13 countries among the 32 final spots but FIFA president Sepp Blatter has previously urged other continents to seek more guaranteed places.
UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino said not only would the 13 places be protected but that Europe would fight for an extra slot.
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He told a news conference in Vienna: "If you look at it objectively based on facts 19 of the top 32 ranked associations are European, the winners of the last three World Cups were European.
"So I think it’s absolutely objective and fair to be asking for one more position only – in fact we could ask for more than one. To be crowned world champions you must have the best teams in the competitions."
He added: "I don’t know if FIFA is trying to reduce the number, I don’t think so – I cannot imagine a World Cup with fewer than 13 (Europeans) taking place. Whatever speculations and discussions the absolute minimum is the status quo."
Infantino also said UEFA’s referees chief Pierluigi Collina had warned clubs about players’ behaviour towards officials in the wake of the furore over Chelsea surrounding Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers in the incident which saw Paris St Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off.
"We have been seeing an aggressive stance from some players which is something we cannot accept and we are very clear about that," said Infantino.
"Collina mentioned it last Friday to those clubs who have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League and Europa League.
"We will not tolerate this behaviour, we must protect and respect the referees."