FIFA have discussed the possibility of expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams in 2026, however, any decision on the proposal has been delayed by the FIFA’s executive committee following Thursday’s meeting.
According to reports from The Guardian, the committee have discussed the expansion of teams as a wider reform package. The four yearly World Cup tournament currently has 32 teams but under the new proposal it would have been increased by another eight from 2026 onwards.
The change is being seen as an attempt to appeal to the majority of the 209 Fifa members who feel Uefa currently has too many spots at the 32-team tournament. The World Cup was expanded from 24 teams to 32 in 1994 and the further expansion would allow Fifa to increase the number of slots available to those outside Europe.
Uefa will have 14 places at the next World Cup in Russia, up to 10 more than the next best-represented confederation. The Oceania Football Confederation currently has no guaranteed place.
At present Africa has five places, Asia four and a half, Europe 13, North and Central America three and a half, South America four and a half, Oceania half a place and one goes to the host.
The idea of expanding the World Cup has been heavily backed by African and Asian members of the committee, however, the decision has been delayed on what would be a highly controversial move.
While at one hand it will set the platform for more nations to participate in the world’s biggest football tournament, further enhancing FIFA’s reputation and popularity, but at the same time, a large tournament would increase the total number of matches to 96, and would be less manageable. As a result there is a high possibility that the competition would suffer a serious drop in quality.