FIFA president Gianni Infantino favours a 48-team World Cup.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino favours a 48-team World Cup. WALTER BIERI

FIFA boss outlines plans for expanded World Cup

FOOTBALL: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has officially laid out his plan to increase the number of countries competing in future World Cup finals, starting with the 2026 edition.

In a document presented to the FIFA Council, 10 possible formats were outlined, with varying numbers of teams.

Infantino said FIFA would decide on the format in January but is pushing for a 48-team tournament, starting with a playoff round.

"There is a positive feeling around the council but the details are still to be elaborated, whether it's 40 teams, eight groups of five or 10 groups of four, or 48 teams with a playoff at the start,” Infantino told reporters. "This is still very much a work in progress.”

Infantino said the standard of the tournament, which expanded to include 32 countries in 1998 and has remained the same since, would not be affected by having more teams.

"I don't agree with diluting the quality,” he said. "I would like to remind everyone that in the last World Cup, Italy and England were eliminated by Costa Rica.”

Infantino's suggested format was for a playoff round featuring 32 teams, where the losers would go home and the winners would proceed to the group stage, joining 16 teams who would receive a bye.


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