KAZAN, October 29 (R-Sport) – Football’s governing body and Russia’s Sports Minister poured cold water Tuesday on proposals from the head of Europe’s football body to enlarge the World Cup to 40 teams.
UEFA president Michel Platini proposed Monday for an extra eight teams to join the World Cup from the Russia 2018 tournament onwards, with all but one of the new teams to be drawn from continents other than Europe.
“Never say never, but it’s unlikely,” said FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, who is No. 2 to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, during a visit to the future Russian World Cup host city of Kazan.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko suggested that Platini’s comments were not welcome to Russia as the host nation.
“FIFA will take the final decision, but it’s unrealistic to change the demands when we’ve already got to the stage of discussing the calendar,” Mutko said.
“Of course, everything’s possible, but you need to respect the country that’s carrying out the preparations for the tournament. We’re preparing on the basis that 32 teams will be taking part.”
Platini’s plans, publicized in an interview with The Times newspaper, foresee an extra two teams each from Asia, the Americas and Africa, with one more European side and one team from Oceania.
The Frenchman’s comments came shortly after Blatter had proposed handing some of Europe’s 13-team allocation to other continents. Platini is widely considered a possible successor to Blatter, who has previously said he will leave FIFA when his current presidential term ends in 2015, although he is eligible to run again.