FIFA chief Gianni Infantino was in discussion with the national federations of Asia, Europe, and Oceania at a meeting today in Singapore where the proposal to expand the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams, with 16 groups of three sides, received a thumbs up. FIFA not only put forward that model, but also an alternative 48-sides format and a 40-outfit event, as part of the three proposals as it plans to expand the World Cup from 2026 onward. The representatives welcomed the idea to change from the ongoing eight group of four, 32-nation extravaganza.
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“They are very supportive of expanding; everyone, unanimously – all those who were here,” said Gianni Infantino after the meeting as reported by the Associated Press. “The big, big, big majority is in favor of the 48 teams with the 16 groups of three,” he added. Under the new format, the top two sides from the groups of three teams will immediately advance into the knockouts, thus kicking out the possibility of games whose results didn’t used to impact the qualifying table.
There were also others who voiced concerns citing that a FIFA World Cup expansion may dilute the quality of the competition, more so because it is considered by approximately a billion to be a tournament for the elites. Infantino brushed aside those concerns as he believes that it gets outweighed by all the benefits. “There is a big upside for football because it allows eight or 16 more teams and more countries and regions in the
world to participate,” added Infantino.
The FIFA president also claimed that all the football organization had already planned that the expansionary models will only increase the nation count but without strechting the event period, which would remain capped at 32 days, with the two finalists only playing seven matches. “There is no downside for the players, and there is no downside for the clubs because the calendar isn’t impacted,” continued Infantino.