New fight with UEFA looms if Blatter threatens World Cup slots

Fri May 29, 2015 4:42pm EDT
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By Mike Collett

ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA may be involved in a battle for its reputation in the wake of the corruption charges raised against some of its officials this week, but it could become embroiled in a civil war with UEFA over World Cup places next.

Newly-re-elected president Sepp Blatter, who got a bloody nose in his less than impressive 133-73 victory over Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan in Friday's vote is about to face the first major obstacle of his fifth term of office.

Blatter will hold the first executive committee meeting under his new mandate on Saturday and the only issue on the agenda is the allocation of World Cup slots for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.

Blatter made it clear in his post-election speech that he "will not touch the World Cup" yet intends to increase the chances of a team from FIFA's smallest confederation, Oceania, having more than just a shot at a playoff to reach the finals.

If he commits to offering them a direct place, one of the other confederations face losing one and UEFA president Michel Platini has "drawn a red line" that it won't be taken from UEFA's allocation of the 13 places they had in Brazil last year.

Platini and almost all of UEFA's 53 members voted for Prince Ali in the presidential election and Platini told the media on Thursday that he had told Blatter the time had come for him to step down after 17 years in the post and not stand again.

Blatter refused and Platini said he could consider boycotting the World Cup, so the stage is set for more infighting between world soccer's governing body and its richest and most powerful confederation.