FIFA approves Infantino’s proposal to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026

Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino

The Fifa Council has “unanimously approved” plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026 onwards.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s revamped plan for the World Cup has received the desired backing he has craved. Delegates in Zurich were asked to vote on four proposals to change the existing format or stick with the current format of 32 teams.

The total number of World Cup games would rise from 64 to 80 but the maximum number of matches any one team could play would remain at seven. The tournament will be completed within 32 days. This measure has been taken to appease powerful European clubs, who have objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule, which could result in adverse club results due to tired players. Travelling to far off nations could take a toll on the player and does, and as it is, international breaks often invite the criticism from managers.

On Tuesday, Nigerian Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick said, “So far everybody’s excited about it. I wouldn’t say there’s 100% support but all my colleagues I’ve spoken to – all my colleagues – are excited about it. I’m not going to say 100% because I haven’t spoken to everybody, but, certainly most of Africa is excited about it.

Fifa’s internal research has suggested the expanded format will increase revenues by $1bn (about £800m), raising total profits from the event to nearly £3.5bn. Fifa president Gianni Infantino, meanwhile, has been behind the move, saying the World Cup has to be “more inclusive”. Infantino has previously said that the expansion will also benefit “the development of football all over the world”.

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