KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has reiterated officially that the European football federation will want a modest minimum of 16 slots an the expanded 48-team World Cup in 2006.

Ceferin was speaking after an executive committee meeting which confirmed a range of governance reforms as well as supported his initial assessment after the council of world governing body FIFA decided that bigger would mean better for the World Cup.

Ceferin . . . proving a new broom at UEFA

Already last month Ceferin, who became a FIFA vice-president on becoming UEFA chief last autumn, accepted the pragmatic position that Europe could be outvoted but that it was in FIFA’s interest not to make too many waves.

Hence UEFA will settle for a minimum of 16 slots but also demand that the European nations who do qualify for the finals are kept apart in the first stage which will comprise 16 groups of three teams.

Realistic approach

Ceferin told a media briefing: “We can push and be outvoted but we think it is realistic to ask for 16 slots at least, plus another condition that each European team is in different groups.  Then if it is true that we are so good, that quality is on our side, I think all 16 can qualify.”

The main business of the executive committee was to agree on a reform of statutes to enact the sort of reforms to which Ceferin’s predecessor, disgraced Frenchman Michel Platini, had been so opposed in his own days leading for UEFA within FIFA.

These, for UEFA, include:

Limiting UEFA’s president and executive committee members to a maximum of three four-year terms;

Adding two football-independent members to the governance committee; and

Organising a formal and transparent bidding process for all UEFA hosting awards.

The exco also approved the creation of a women’s football division to enhance promotion  and marketing of the women’s game, including its own Champions League Final.

Ceferin said: “In the past the women’s final was a sort of warm-up event for the men’s Champions League Final. We want to take it away from that.”

All these proposals must be approved by congress in Helsinki on April 5.

Election candidates

A total of 13 candidates from UEFA member associations are standing for the eight vacant positions available on the exco for a four-year term from 2017 to 2021.

They are:

 Boniek Zbigniew (Poland)

 Boranbayev Kairat (Kazakhstan)

 Delaney John (Republic of Ireland)

 Duka Armand (Albania)

 Gill David (England)*

 Grindel Reinhard (Germany)

 Lefkaritis Marios N. (Cyprus)*

 Mammadov Elkhan (Azerbaijan)

 Nilsson Karl-Erik (Sweden)

 O’Connor Kieran (Wales)

 Uva Michele (Italy)

 van Praag Michael (Netherlands)*

 Yardımcı Servet (Turkey)

* standing for re-election