ZURICH: Oceania, given hope yesterday of a guaranteed slot at the World Cup finals, have been disappointed writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The first meeting of the new exective committee of governing body FIFA decided to maintain unchanged the allocation of slots for the finals of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The only variation from the balance from Brazil last year is that in 2018 Europe (Russia) will take over the automatic-qualified host slot which will go to Asia (Qatar) four years later.

The base allocation remains thus: Africa 5; Asia 4.5; Europe 13; North, Central America and Caribbean 3.5; Oceania 0.5; South America 4.5; host one.

Oceania’s winners must thus again play off against a ‘lucky loser’ from Asia or CONCACAF or South America.

Respect issue

Yet, in the immediate afterglow of his election victory in Friday evening, FIFA president Sepp Blatter had a point of saying: “[We owe] a little bit more respect to one of the confederations – Oceania.

“They have only one member in the executive committee and only 50pc of a World Cup slot. We have to do something for them. That is not good.”

Oceania has a solid status within the world game despite its geographical remoteness from Zurich. It is currently hosting the World Under-20 Youth finals.

Another World Cup issue for the exco concerned preparation for the opening of bidding for the 2026 finals. It was confirmed that the only region whose countries may not bid will be Asia.

The United States, Mexico and Canada have long been considered the likely front-runners.

** Indonesia has been suspended from all forthcoming international football competitions and from FIFA participation after a failure to resolve a long-running internal governance dispute.

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