When Gianni Infantino took over the helm of the FIFA, the governing body in charge of organized world football, he made it clear in his manifesto that he was going to expand the number of teams competing in the World Cup.
Folks, that could very well be a reality in the near future.
When he put his name forward for the top job, Infantino had mentione – as part of his manifesto – that he would endevour to give more teams opportunities to get into the World Cup.
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And now, he believes it is time, as he declared that several Football Federations all around the world are “overwhelmingly in favour” of extending the number of teams in the World Cup to 48 from the previous 32.
Instead of the existing grouping system (consisting of eight groupings of four teams), there are plans to introduce a new system which would consist of 16 groups of three teams each. This way, 16 additional teams get introduced to the previous 32, making the total number 48.
When speaking about it recently after a meeting in Singapore, December 7, Infantino said:
“The big, big, big majority is in favour of the 48 teams with the 16 groups of three.”
Qualification from the group stage to the knock-out round of 32 would be the top two from each of the 16 groups.
Prior to this plan, Infantino had favoured a much simpler plan for 48, which would involve an opening playoff round for 32 teams. But the idea failed to persuade stakeholders, FIFA members, and commercial giants, because it has less certainty, and more short-notice travel for fans. Also, the commercial partners wanted a minimum of two matches per team, as it is best for business.
Infantino is set to submit this proposal at the next meeting of the FIFA council, slated to hold in Zurich on January 9-10, 2017.
However, these changes are due to start at the 2026 tournament of the World Cup.
We also think this is a good development from FIFA, as it showcases more of the world’s talent at such a largescale competition as the World Cup.