Asia should look to take away World Cup places from Europe if they are to improve standards on the continent, out-going Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Peter Velappan said on Friday.

Velappan said that after the performances of Japoan and especially South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, Asia should be entitled to stronger representation at future tournaments.

With Australia set to strengthen Asia’s ranks with a likely move from Oceania to the AFC in the near future, the 69-year-old said Asian countries should look to increase their current World Cup allocation of four and a half places.

“Nobody should bully or short-change Asia because it is going to be the continent of the future,” said Velappan. “It is going to be an influential part of world football.

“As the quality of our players and teams continues to improve, we should be looking at getting as many places as Europe. We should not be prepared to stay with four or five places forever.”

In the 2002 tournament, co-hosts South Korea reached the semi-finals while Japan made to the last 16.

For the 2006 World Cup, Asia has four automatic places and could secure a fifth in a playoff against a team from the CONCACAF region. In contrast, Europe has 13 plus hosts Germany.

“I have dedicated my life to football in Asia and will continue to do that. I have stood firm for Asia,” said Velappan, who steps down after 27 years as AFC general secretary.