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Good news, Ireland fans! Uefa are confident of an extra World Cup place for European nations

We’ve always liked Gianni.

Uefa's annual congress is taking place in Vienna this week.
Uefa's annual congress is taking place in Vienna this week.
Image: AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

UEFA GENERAL SECRETARY Gianni Infantino believes there is a “big chance” of more than 13 places being up for grabs for European nations in future World Cups.

Thirteen of the 32 countries who featured in last year’s tournament in Brazil were from Europe and there will be 14 in 2018 due to Russia being the host nation.

Infantino told reporters on Monday that he believes there should be a stronger European presence in World Cups given the success of Italy, Spain and Germany in the last three tournaments.

He said: “I think there is a big chance that we have more than 13, because if you look at it objectively, based on facts, 19 of the top 32 ranked associations are European.

“The last three winners of the last three World Cups were three European teams, so I think it’s absolutely objective and fair to be asking for one more position only.

Different continental federations are jostling for places in the 32-country finals ahead of a Fifa decision on the regional allocation in May. Africa, Asia and the Americas all say they deserve more.

“We could ask for more than one, but one more would already be a good sign to the sporting merit, and at the end of the day to crown the world champion, we must have the best teams in the competition, so I think there’s a good chance there.

“I don’t know if FIFA is trying to reduce the places, I don’t think so.  I cannot imagine a World Cup with less than 13 plus one, the host, European teams taking place.

“So you know, whatever speculations and discussions are being made the absolute minimum is the status quo, and we’ve proven on the pitch that something more has and can be done.”

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Round of 16 - Second Leg - Chelsea v Paris St Germain - Stamford Bridge The Champions League is set to become even more lucrative Source: Andrew Matthews

Meanwhile, Champions League and Europa League clubs will share more than €1.6 billion in prize money from next season in a huge new boost to their coffers, Uefa announced today at its annual congress.

The Champions League treasure chest will rise from one billion euros to €1.25 billion for the next three seasons. Europa League clubs will see their pot increased from €232 million to €380 million.

Currently each team in the Champions League receives a minimum of €8.6 million, boosted by performance bonuses such as a million euros for each win in the group stage.

Additional reporting by - © AFP 2015

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