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FIFA in principle, favours 36 slots for World Cup

FIFA RELEASE, Zurich – At a meeting held in Zurich today – Saturday, 3 May 2003 – the FIFA Executive Committee agreed to raise the number of finalist places at the 2006 FIFA World CupTM from 32 to 36, but only on condition that a match schedule be drawn up that ensured the sporting credibility of the event.

A final decision will be passed at the next meeting of the executive in Paris at the end of June 2003.

The South American confederation, CONMEBOL, had submitted a request to have the number of slots for the 2006 FIFA World CupTM raised from 32 to 36 at the Executive Committee meeting in Zurich on 6/7 March 2003.

During the meeting today that lasted more than seven hours under the chairmanship of President Joseph S. Blatter, the executive body of 24 members furthermore decided to transfer the 4th FIFA Women’s World Cup 2003, due to be staged in PR China from 23 September to 11 October, to another country. In reaching this decision, the executive complied with a unanimous recommendation from the Sports Medical Committee of football’s world governing body (chairman: Dr Michel D’Hooghe, Belgium). The committee had undertaken a detailed investigation of the unstable health situation in China, which is seriously affected by the SARS epidemic (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and had advised against holding the world championship in China after consulting experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and specialists in epidemiology and travel medicine in universities throughout Europe (see separate media release).

To date, the USA and Australia have expressed interest in staging the competition. The FIFA administration will be clarifying the situation over the next few weeks, especially with regard to the timing of the championship. The final competition should, ideally, coincide with the timing of that originally planned for China. Either the FIFA Emergency or Executive Committee will pass the final decision. At the same time, the Executive Committee announced that the Women’s World Cup in the year 2007 would be awarded to China.

With regard to the planned revision of the FIFA Statutes, the new version of which will be put to the vote at the FIFA Congress in Qatar in October, the Executive Committee discussed several points in the current amendment stage. The next step will be to dispatch the revised draft for comment to the confederations and national associations. Furthermore, the executive body directed FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation, AFC, to devise a plan to rebuild football in Iraq and to ensure its implementation.

Finally the members ratified a decision passed by the Emergency Committee to suspend the association of Azerbaijan.

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