Friday, July 9, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Asia renews World Cup threat
Fifa President Sepp Blatter thought the crisis had been averted
Asian countries have renewed their threat to boycott the football World Cup in 2002, complaining that the sport's governing body, Fifa, has not allocated them enough places.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) thanked Europe for its efforts, but is now demanding another place in the 32-team finals, to take its allocation up to three.
This is in addition to the automatic places granted to the joint host countries, Japan and South Korea.
"It was decided by all the delegates, who felt Asia has been shabbily treated on this issue and this was an unanimous demonstration of solidarity," he added.
Fifa President Sepp Blatter said he would not comment until he had been officially notified of the decision.
The Asian countries' complaint is that their share of places in the finals has been cut compared with last year's World Cup in France. At the finals last year, Asia had three automatic places plus a play-off spot, which Iran won by beating Oceania winner Australia. However none of the Asian teams advanced beyond the first round.
Nonetheless the AFC, which says it represents the football for more than half the world's population, argued that one place had in effect been taken away.
They say the decision was a political one and should not affect their participation.
The row has been simmering since December, when the AFC, which represents more than 40 Asian footballing nations, threatened strike action if its allocation was not increased.
Following two days of meetings in Los Angeles, Fifa President Sepp Blatter announced on Tuesday a deal which would see a European team playing a deciding qualifier against an Asian national side.
The move, in effect, gave Asia an extra one-half place and correspondingly reduced the Euroean allocation.
European teams had been allocated 15 places in the 32-team finals, including one automatic position for World Champions France.
The 2002 finals will be the first to be 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 the two continents.