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Soccer-Platini to press for more European World Cup places

Reuters

By Mike Collett

MONACO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Michel Platini, who will almost certainly be re-elected as UEFA president next year after saying he had no plans to run for the FIFA presidency, said on Thursday he wants Europe to have 15 places at the World Cup again.

Platini, 59, used his traditional early season media conference to announce he intended to urge FIFA to increase Europe's representation from 13 teams back to 15 for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

"We had 15 European teams in 1998 and now we have only 13 but Europe has won the last three World Cups with Germany now the champions and the Netherlands finishing third this year.

"Europe is the strongest confederation and I will urge FIFA to recognise this.

"What matters here is not me or my feelings. What matters is the future of UEFA and of football. UEFA and European football have never been as strong and powerful as they are today and I have every intention of guarding this supremacy."

Earlier this year FIFA president Sepp Blatter hinted that he would like to see less European representation at the World Cup and more teams from other confederations, and Platini responded by saying Europe would not tolerate that.

If Blatter wanted that perhaps the World Cup should be increased to 36 or 40 teams from the current 32, Platini said.

On Thursday he said he decided to challenge Blatter because he would not accept a decrease in Europe's teams at the finals.

"Without changing the number of European teams, if he wants more African or Asian teams, then the World Cup could increase - it isn't necessarily pleasant but it is a solution."

Platini is also overseeing the newly-expanded 24-team Euro 2016 tournament in France while next month, UEFA will decide which 13 venues will stage matches in the pan-European 2020 European championship.

Platini told the news conference that he knew he had made the right decision not to run for the FIFA presidency because he had not yet finished the work he had set out to do with UEFA.

He said he was delighted with the latest figures regarding the Financial Fair Play rules UEFA has introduced to ensure clubs live within their means.

"Since we started the fair play process, the cumulative losses of European clubs have come down from 1.7 billion euros to 800 million euros and this proves we are on the right path and going from a vicious spiral to a virtuous cycle with respect to the management of most European clubs." (Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Justin Palmer)

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