Football: Pot luck for Europe in play-off

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The Independent Online
THE EUROPEAN team to play an Asian side in a play-off for the 2002 World Cup finals will be chosen by ballot, Uefa, football's European governing body, said.

The Europeans will meet the Asian side as part of the deal brokered by the game's world governing body, Fifa, in July which averted the threat of an Asian boycott from the 2002 finals in South Korea and Japan.

There will be nine runners-up from the nine European qualifying groups. Eight will meet in four play-offs, with the remaining team playing the Asian side.

"Europe could have 15 countries in the next World Cup as a result of France winning last time," a spokesman said - the world champions, the nine European group winners, plus the four play-off winners. The 15th nation could be the winner of the Europe-Asia play-off.