FIFA to decide on 2014 World Cup slots next week
By Brian Homewood
BERNE (Reuters) - FIFA will make one of its most politically sensitive decisions next week when soccer's governing body decides how many places each continent will get at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
With South America hoping for an extra spot, CONCACAF demanding a fourth guaranteed place and Asia refusing to settle for anything less than the four-and-a-half berths it had in 2010, the stage is set for a heated two-day session when its executive committee meets in Zurich on March 2-3.
The continental confederations have been jockeying for position ahead of the decision on the 31 available World Cup places, Brazil qualifying automatically as hosts.
Asia Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam said last month that his region wanted at least the four-and-a-half places it had in South Africa.
Australia, North Korea, South Korea and Japan represented Asia in 2010 while Bahrain lost in a playoff to New Zealand, winners of the Oceania qualifying tournament.
Jack Warner, president of the CONCACAF confederation representing North and Central America and the Caribbean, has said his region wants its quota increased to four direct places.
CONCACAF had three guaranteed spots in South Africa last year and Costa Rica lost to Uruguay in a playoff for another place.
"We believe that CONCACAF deserves another full place at the World Cup finals due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederation off it," said Warner. Continued...