Uefa wants European nations to be afforded an extra qualifying slot for the Fifa World Cup in 2018, according to its general secretary Gianni Infantino.
Thirteen out of 32 countries on parade at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were from Europe and Infantino wants an extra spot in 2018 in addition to Russia, who qualify automatically as hosts.
“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,” he said at a news conference in Vienna.
“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.”
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has in the past encouraged confederations to seek more guaranteed places. Infantino said Europe is poised to keep its 13 places as well as fight for a 14th spot.
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 made mention of players’ attitude towards match officials following the outcry over Chelsea players surrounding Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers in the incident which led to the sending off of Paris St Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Stamford bridge.
He said UEFA’s referees chief Pierluigi Collina cited it as watchwords for clubs already through to the last 8 of the Champions and Europa League.
“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.”