UEFA to ask for 16 places at expanded 2026 World Cup - Aleksander Ceferin

Europe will formally ask FIFA for at least 16 places in the expanded 48-team World Cup lineup, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Thursday.

Last month, FIFA opted to add 16 teams to the 2026 tournament. Two teams will advance to the knockout round from each three-nation group.

Ceferin, speaking after the UEFA executive committee meeting, said: "We think it's realistic to ask for 16 slots plus another condition that each European [team] is in a different group.

"I think all 16 can qualify for the second round."

Percentage-wise, 16 of 48 teams would be a decrease from UEFA's 13 spots -- over 40 percent -- under the current 32-team World Cup format. With hosts Russia, Europe will have 14 teams at the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA plans to confirm continental entry quotas for the 2026 World Cup at meetings in Bahrain in May.

If UEFA's requests are accepted by FIFA, it will ensure no all-European matches in the 12-day group stage at the 2026 tournament.

At the 2014 World Cup, the opening round of group games included Netherlands routing defending champion Spain 5-1, Italy beating England 2-1, and eventual winners Germany beating Portugal 4-0.

Meanwhile, UEFA confirmed that it would introduce "good governance" reforms after the meeting.

Ceferin had announced plans for the reforms after he was elected to succeed Michel Platini, banned by FIFA for a financial conflict of interest, five months ago.

The measures include limiting UEFA's president and executive committee members to a maximum of three four-year terms.

Future candidates for elected positions should also have active roles at their national federation, Ceferin suggested. Those roles include president, vice president, general secretary or CEO at one of UEFA's 55 members.

UEFA also wants to add a commitment to ethical values in its statutory rules, which can be updated at its annual congress on April 5 in Helsinki, Finland.

Under Platini's leadership, which ended over a $2 million payment he received from FIFA in 2011, UEFA had no formal ethical objectives.

"Some ethical provisions should be included in the disciplinary code," Ceferin said.

Ceferin declined to comment on FIFA's current review of the application by Vitaly Mutko, the Russian deputy prime minister and head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee, to retain his FIFA Council seat in an election in Helsinki.

Mutko is being investigated by the FIFA ethics committee over his alleged role in a Russian state doping program, including claims by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation team that he knew of and covered up doping in Russian soccer.

Ceferin also wants UEFA members to support adding two independent members to a good governance panel, and create a dedicated division overseeing the women's game.

"We will invest more in women's football, we will promote it. We need people who do the work," he said.

UEFA also wants to formalise two seats on its executive committee with full voting rights to nominees from the European Club Association. The observer roles are currently held by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge of Bayern Munich and Andrea Agnelli of Juventus.

The leagues' umbrella group could also be given full representation, Ceferin said. Leaders of the European Professional Football Leagues have threatened to withdraw cooperation with UEFA in a dispute fuelled by Champions League changes announced last August.