Fifa agree to expand World Cup to 48 teams

2017-01-18 06:02

ZURICH — Fifa have voted to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from its current 32, brushing aside concerns that the expansion would lower the overall standard of the tournament, and make it too long and unwieldy.

Soccer’s governing body said on their Twitter feed that the Fifa Council, their decision-making panel, had voted unanimously in favour of the change which will be introduced at the 2026 tournament. The new format will include a first round of 16 groups of three teams, Fifa said, with further details to be given later.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter in February, had made World Cup expansion one of his promises during his successful electoral campaign.

Fifa’s 211 member associations each hold one vote in the presidential election and 135 of them have never played at a World Cup, so expansion of the tournament was always likely to appeal.

Those who have never qualified include 41 out of 54 of their African members and 10 out of 11 members in the Oceania region. Critics, including the powerful European clubs as well as some leading coaches, have said that Fifa are tampering with a winning formula.

The last World Cup in Brazil was widely regarded as one of the best in the competition’s 87-year history, featuring shock results, last-minute drama and outstanding individual performances.

Another worry with the new format is that there could be a number of matches at the end of the group stage where both teams know exactly which result will send them into the next stage.

The qualifying competition, meanwhile, is likely to become a mere formality for many of the strongest teams.

The inaugural World Cup in Uruguay featured just 13 teams and 17 matches. Sixteen teams took part from 1934, eight more were added from 1982 onwards and, finally, another eight in 1998.

The pressure group New Fifa Now, which has campaigned for reform of Fifa, criticised the move.

“It will not help development … or provide improved competitive opportunities for lower-ranked nations,” it said in a statement. “Instead, it will make a mockery of the qualification process for most confederations.” — Reuters.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.