Football: World Cup to be expanded to 48 teams

FIFA, football's world governing body, have voted unanimously in Zurich on Tuesday to include 48 teams in the World Cup, starting with the 2026 tournament. The new format has 16 more teams than the current one and it will feature an initial stage of 16 groups of three teams. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the first knockout round of 32. The number of matches at the final tournament will rise from 64 to 80.

Big European clubs have argued that an expansion of the tournament would affect the already very busy international schedule, but the now agreed format would see the World Cup completed in 32 days. Not everybody agrees with the new format. Fifa Now, a campaign group that is pushing for FIFA reform, says the expansion is "a money grab and power grab. It will dilute the competitiveness of the tournament and, therefore, the enjoyment of fans. It will not help development of the game or provide improved competitive opportunities for lower-ranked nations. Instead, it will make a mockery of the qualification process for most confederations."

New FIFA president Gianni Ifantino argued that the World Cup needs to be "more inclusive", thus helping the development of the sport in more nations. He said: "There is nothing bigger in terms of boosting football in a country than participating in a World Cup." There is more money to be made by FIFA as well, their own research shows that the new 48-team format would increase their profit by over half a billion pounds.

Germany are the favourites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia, they are 9/2 at Bet365 to win the trophy.

Meta title: World Cup to include 48 teams in 2026

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Members Comments

  • Bulgaria sharpe


    What's your thought about that Johnny?

    I thought 32 are already too many!
    It's obvious that FIFA doing that for "a money grab and power grab" like they said.
    And I think in the end it could have the opposite effect and in many countries interest will go down, for sure for those not involved in the tournament.
    After few years the qualifications might dropped off and the whole world would play at the WC, there are already teams which shouldn't be there...

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