Football: Prince Ali worried about World Cup places

LONDON - FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin Al Hussein on Monday expressed fears that horsetrading over the allocation of places at the 2018 World Cup could influence the election.

FIFA's executive committee will decide on the distribution of World Cup places by confederation on May 30, a day after Ali, Michel van Praag and Luis Figo go up against incumbent Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential election.

Michel Platini, president of European governing body UEFA, has suggested that Blatter will make promises about World Cup slots while campaigning and Ali is also concerned about the order of events.

"At the last executive committee meeting, it was decided that the issue of whether to allocate new slots to the World Cup or not should take place the day after the FIFA election," he told AFP during a phone call from Cairo.

"My concern is that we have to be responsible and really have a proper discussion about this with all stakeholders before rushing into something.

"My other concern is that it could be used for political purposes by making promises that may not take place the day after. That could be a feeling during an election time." At last month's UEFA congress in Vienna, Platini told reporters: "For the allocation of places at the World Cup, Blatter is organising a committee after the (election) congress. He's playing with that." Platini believes that Europe deserves an extra berth at the 2018 World Cup, having sent 13 teams to last year's tournament in Brazil.

With Russia guaranteed to qualify as hosts, Europe is expected to have 14 representatives, which Platini does not believe reflects the continent's strength.

But Ali expressed caution about giving certain confederations preferential treatment.

"As FIFA, we have to view it as what's best for the world as a whole," he said.

"If that includes an increase for UEFA or for others, then so be it. But the important thing is to view it through the prism of what's best for the development of football around the world."

Blatter is eager to award more World Cup places to non-European teams and said recently: "In my 40 years at FIFA, I have regarded it as my most important task to lead football out of Europe into the whole world."