Football's most powerful men were this morning preparing to begin the jousting to decide the number of World Cup berths for each continent.
FIFA's executive committee are meeting in Zurich for a two-day meeting that will see the distribution of the 32 places for the 2014 World Cup decided.
The process is likely to be overshadowed however by political wranglings - specifically over whether current FIFA president Sepp Blatter is to face a challenge to his position from Asian federation supremo Mohammed Bin Hammam in May.
That situation could influence the outcome of bargaining over the World Cup slots - especially as FIFA powerbroker Jack Warner, the head of the CONCACAF federation of countries from north and central America and the Caribbean, is demanding an extra spot for his member states.
That would take them up to four guaranteed slots. Currently CONCACAF have three places plus a possibility of a fourth via a play-off against a South American country.
Chuck Blazer, the USA's FIFA executive member and secretary general of CONCACAF, said the confederation's 40 national associations - one fifth of FIFA's total - deserved more representation in the World Cup.
Blazer told Press Association Sport: "From both a sporting and political perspective we believe we warrant the extra half-place.
"Politically, we have the number of countries to warrant it and our countries' performances in the World Cup have demonstrated that we deserve it."
The 2014 hosts Brazil will have an automatic slot, so South America should be happy with the 4.5 berths it had in 2010.
Asia also have 4.5 slots currently - the fifth team plays off against the leading country from the Oceania federation.
Europe's 13 places are unlikely to be challenged, especially with three of 2010 semi-finalists coming from that continent, but Africa's five slots could be vulnerable with only Ghana making any sort of showing at last year's finals.
- More about:
- British Cycling Federation
- FIFA Confederations Cup
- FIFA World Cup
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office