Federation Internationale de Football Association votes for expansion of 2026 World Cup to 48 teams

12 January, 2017, 00:43 | Author: Felix Jensen
  • Federation Internationale de Football Association votes for expansion of 2026 World Cup to 48 teams

Asian countries have largely failed to make an impact at the World Cup, which is dominated by European and South American teams, although co-hosts South Korea reached the semi-finals in 2002.

"To come out with something that doesn't increase the number of games for the ultimate victor and keeps it down to 32 days is very good".

The first World Cup in Uruguay had just 13 teams, it was increased to first 16 and then to 24 before France 1998 where the familiar 32-team format was adopted. They'll enter groups where two of three teams advance, instead of two of four.

Fifa's decision-making body, the Fifa Council, also decided that the format would consist of 16 groups of three teams in the group stage - Fifa president Gianni Infantino's favoured plan.

The upside of this successful Infantino campaign is that the World Cup finals will make direct entry to 16 more countries from 2026 onwards.

There was little disagreement amongst the 37-member FIFA Council when they voted for the increase but discussions may not be so cordial when the discussion begins on how many slots their regions will receive for the 2026 tournament, when the changes come into effect.

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FIFA's 6 continental partners will decide soon on the number of extra places they will get. But it doesn't end there, participating teams from Russian Federation 2018 for reaching the group stage and this kind of revenue could go a long way in helping developing African countries. Each of us has a wish list in our minds and want to ensure that our teams do well from an expanded tournament. Basically, the entire Hex would qualify for the World Cup.

Martin said direct entry for a team from OFC into the FIFA World Cup is something that New Zealand Football has been lobbying for with OFC for a long time. "The prestige attached to World Cup qualification will be watered down at a time when global football is already fighting a losing battle for relevance in the face of the club game", he writes. By moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter time, it devalued Fox's rights for the tournament as it would face greatly increased competition from college football and the NFL.

But Fifa has admitted it expects the standard of the tournament to drop with an additional 16 teams. Rather than going into a shootout with a top-20 team in the world which is what we could be facing this year if we qualify.

"Firstly, we wanted to resolve the format of the 2026 tournament and we have successfully done this". It means an already impressive infrastructure required to stage the competition will have to be even better by 2026, leading to the openness of sharing it between more countries.

These include Infantino's proposed remedy to avoid the risk of teams colluding in their third games to eliminate the other member of the group - he has suggested settling draws with penalty shoot-outs.

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