Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Fifa settles Asia World Cup dispute
Japanese fans get behind their team at France 98
International football officials are reported to have agreed a deal giving Asian nations the chance to compete for a fifth place in the 2002 World Cup.
In December the confederation, which represents more than 40 Asian footballing nations, said the allocation was unfair and threatened strike action if it was not increased.
Now Fifa officials meeting in California say they have reached an agreement under which the fifth placed Asian team will play a European team for a spot in the play-offs.
That means Europe gives up the right to one of its places, potentially making way for a fifth Asian nation - from Lebanon in the west to the Philippines in the east - to compete for the cup.
"It has been decided that Europe and Asia will play for half a place," said Fifa Executive Committee member Jack Warner. "It is the best way for these things to be decided, to avoid contentious debate."
In March, Lennart Johansson, the head of European football's governing body Uefa, said Asian nations should "look somewhere else" for help.
"It's always Europe that has to give in," he said. "My opinion is Europe should not give up a spot."
Nonetheless the AFC, which says it represents the football for more than half the world's population, argued that that place had effectively been taken away.
The Asian countries said it was not their decision to appoint co-hosts, thus losing them one place.
They say the decision was a political one and should not affect their participation.
The 2002 cup will be the first time the finals have been held in Asia.
In 1966 African and Asian nations - with the exception of North Korea - withdrew from the qualifying rounds for the 16-team finals after just one place was allocated to a team from the two continents.