FIFA has completed its’ review of the allocation of places for the 2006 World Cup with Europe and South America each losing a slot, while Oceania gains an automatic place in the finals for the first time.

The news will come as a disappointment to Europe, whose allocation drops from 15 to 14, but as David Will, the British associations’ FIFA vice-president, admitted, there was some relief that the continent did not lose more places.

“I think it’s a reasonable compromise for Europe, a result with which we can be content. Losing one place is a minimum concession in the wider scheme of things.”

There had been suggestions in advance ofthe meeting that Europe would lose up to three places with Asia and Central America pushing for an increased allocation on the back of impressive showings by South Korea and the United States in particular, in the summer.

South American officials were described by Will as being “deeply unhappy” at having their allocation reduced from five to four countries.