Africa gains 2 World Cup slots


With the World Cup field expanding from 24 teams to 32 teams, FIFA yesterday increased the number of berths for Africa from the three that took part in the United States this past summer to five for the 1998 tournament in France.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, also increased by one entry the berths of four of the other five confederations and maintained the number for Oceania, which still must earn a spot by a playoff against a country from another continent.

Besides the three spots for the North and Central American region and the five for Africa, Europe has 15 spots, including one for France as host nation; Asia has 3, plus a possible playoff winner with Oceania. and South America has 5, counting the defender, Brazil.

Among other decisions taken by FIFA this week were the following:

* The 32 teams in the World Cup in France will play 64 matches, and penalty kicks will continue to decide tie games after overtime.

* Starting with their next seasons, every country in the world will award three points for a victory.

* Sixteen countries will play in the 1996 Summer Olympics, and soccer matches will be staged in Orlando, Fla., Miami, Washington, Atlanta and Athens, Ga.

* Diego Maradona of Argentina will be allowed to work as a coach after his suspension for using illegal drugs in the 1994 World Cup.

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