Britain's Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce will block Sepp Blatter move to reduce European clubs in World Cup

Europe currently receive 13 spots out of 32

Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce will oppose a threatened move by Sepp Blatter to cut the number of European places at future World Cups.

Boyce, from Northern Ireland, insists Europe's 13 spots out of 32 is a fair proportion given the continent's influence on football.

FIFA president Blatter raised the prospect of a cut for Europe and South America - which has up to five spots - in a speech to Asian associations today where he said the World Cup should be "better balanced".

But Boyce told Press Association Sport: "Europe plays a very significant part in world football and I believe 13 places in the World Cup is a very fair reflection of that.

"I would say the same about South America and their power in world football.

"The number of places for Asian and African countries has already been increased and we have seen the emergence of teams like Nigeria and South Korea. If they want greater representation then they have to prove it on the field of play.

"I would say the current allocation is very fair and I am not in favour of a change."

Blatter's threat may be a shot across the bows for UEFA president Michel Platini, who is considering standing for the FIFA presidency.

The issue of World Cup places for each continent is always hotly contested, and often used as a bargaining tool by candidates in FIFA elections - and Blatter has dropped another hint that he may change his promise to quit in 2015 and stand for another term.

Europe and South America make up 63 countries, fewer than one-third of FIFA's current 209 members, but will take up more than half of the available World Cup finals places between them .

Blatter told the Asian Football Confederation congress in Kuala Lumpur: "In 2014 in Brazil there are 32 teams, one has qualified from South America (hosts Brazil) and then you have 13 teams from Europe, and possibly five more from South America.

"If this happens then you have 19 out of 32, there is no chance to kick them out before one of them is in the semi-finals. This is the law of the numbers.

"We shall have a look on this, you should have a look on that and bring such items on the agenda because we should have a better balance."

Currently Asia has 4.5 places - with a play-off for a fifth against South America. Africa has five spots, North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) has 3.5 places, and Oceania 0.5.

Blatter added: "We have the right and we have the obligation and the responsibility to bring this matter to discussion. We have to do that."

New AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa echoed Blatter's remarks, saying: "Asia deserves more."

He also promised to back Blatter should he stand again for the FIFA presidency.

PA

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