World-FootballFIFA president Sepp Blatter said Friday that more moves are needed to export football away from Europe, as he gears up for a battle over Europe’s World Cup places and his own reelection.

“The world is no longer Eurocentric. In my 40 years at FIFA I have regarded it as my most important task to lead football out of Europe into the whole world,” Blatter said.

“We have succeeded but the process is not yet at an end,” he added in a column in the FIFA magazine The Weekly.

He made no specific proposals. But throughout his time as FIFA president, Blatter has encouraged Africa and other continents to press for more World Cup places.

The latest comments come however after the 79-year-old Blatter had an awkward time at the UEFA Congress on Tuesday, having to watch his three rivals for the FIFA presidency in May attack his record. UEFA president Michel Platini also made new calls for change at the world body.

On top, UEFA made clear that it will be pressing for an extra place at the 2018 World Cup when FIFA’s executive decides the allocation, the day after the FIFA presidential vote on May 29.

Platini indicated at the Vienna congress on Tuesday that he believes Blatter is linking the two.

Platini told a small group of reporters after the congress that the number of European places at the 2018 World Cup is “quite rightly” a prime concern for national federations.

“You know that Blatter will organise an executive committee the day after the Congress … and he put on the agenda ‘slots of the World Cup’ He is playing with that.”

Europe believes it deserves at least one extra slot as it has 19 of the top 31 teams in the FIFA rankings.

At the 1998 World Cup, there were 15 European teams but in Brazil last year the number had dropped to 13. If the same system is kept for Russia 2018, Europe would have 14 representatives, 13 through qualifiers and Russia as hosts.

“If they don’t want Europe any more they have to say so,” the UEFA leader declared.

Other federations, particularly Africa and Asia, are also pressing for extra places however. 

Blatter, who is favourite to win a fifth term, acknowledged the weight of UEFA’s 54 national associations in FIFA’s membership, adding that “their sporting and political significance is important.”

“However we must not forget that football‘s global success is based on the vast reserves of talent and economic resources drawn from Africa, Asia, North and South America and Oceania.”- Agence France-Presse

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