World Cup qualification could get easier for Ireland as UEFA push for extra European places
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin will insist on European teams being given 16 slots when FIFA expands the World Cup to 48 teams in 2026.
Speaking at UEFA's Nyon headquarters after a meeting of the confederation's executive committee (ExCo), Ceferin said this was a "realistic" request and the teams should be evenly distributed between the 16 three-team groups.
UEFA gets a minimum of 13 slots in the current 32-team World Cup format but is resigned to the fact most of the new places are heading to the relatively under-represented African and Asian confederations.
Some within European football have said three extra places should be a minimum requirement but UEFA's leadership has a clearer view of the global landscape and knows three extra places is the best deal it will get from FIFA.
The vast majority of the ExCo's business on Thursday, however, was focused on matters closer to home as Ceferin received unanimous backing for the various reform ideas he campaigned on last year.
Currently, UEFA has no terms limits for senior roles on its statute book, only a rule that candidates must be under 70 at the time of an election. But the 49-year-old Slovenian wants to limit presidents and ExCo members to a maximum of three four-year terms.
He also clarified his position on ExCo members having to hold "active" roles in their national associations. If approved at April's UEFA Congress in Helsinki, ExCo members will also have to be either president, vice-president, general secretary or CEO of their respective FAs.
Taken together, these two changes will lead to significant changes in terms of personnel on the ExCo, as eight of the current 16 members are up for re-election and only two of them, including England's David Gill, meet the above criteria.
Ceferin also wants to listen more closely to the clubs, so he is proposing to add two representatives from the European Club Association to the ExCo, with full voting rights. They currently attend meetings as observers. Further consultation will take place on extending this to the European Professional Football Leagues.
Other proposals going forward to a vote at congress include the addition of two independents to UEFA's governance and compliance committee and a commitment to ensuring bids for finals of UEFA competitions are assessed objectively and transparently.
"I am very pleased that the executive committee gave a unanimous backing to reforms I consider essential for the strengthening of UEFA and which formed a key pillar of my presidential manifesto," said Ceferin, who was elected in September.
"I am convinced that our member associations will also endorse these good governance proposals to create a stronger and more transparent governing body for the good of European football."