Federation Internationale de Football Association gets unanimous vote to expand World Cup to 48 teams

Tricia Pearson
January 10, 2017

Under the current World Cup qualification system, based on a 32-team tournament, Oceania only has half a spot and the victor faces a playoff against a team from bigger, stronger confederations such as South America and Asia.

"We fail to see the merits to changing the current format of 32 that has proven to be the flawless formula from all perspectives", it said in a statement, adding it would address the issue in more detail at the end of the month.

Q: What other impact will 48 teams have on the tournament?

Three-team groups mean one country will be left idle for the final group matches, and concerns have been raised over collusion between the two remaining teams.

The total number of games become 80, but the tournament will be completed within 32 days.

Penalty shoot-outs at the end of drawn group matches was a suggestion many thought would be adopted, but Infantino has also raised the possibility of world rankings deciding the overall positions if two nations find themselves tied on points and other qualifying criteria. Come 2026, the Location-TBD World Cup will include 48 countries.

That maiden edition of the World Cup which took place in 1930.

But FIFA has admitted it expects the standard of the tournament to drop with an additional 16 teams.

More teams means more games.

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The changes, voted through by the Fifa Council, will see an extra 16 teams participating in the tournament from 2026.

Before the decision was made, Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan drew reference to the expanded Euro 2016 format while expressing support for Infantino's plan, citing the examples of Wales, Iceland and Northern Ireland in saying, the expansion will be "a positive thing for the smaller nations".

The economic benefits of the expansion are even more obvious. "According to their own research they stand to significantly increase revenue - a 48 team tournament has the potential to increase income by up to £822million more than the £4.5billion revenue forecast for Russian Federation 2018". This is expected to raise the total profits from the World Cup to almost Pounds 3.5 billion.

Under the upcoming arrangement, Africa would have 9 World Cup places, representing 16.6% of African teams who can qualify against the current 9.25%.

On the one hand, the quality of the tournament will undoubtedly be diluted.

The new format calls for the World Cup to move more quickly to a do-or-die knockout stage.

Here, Press Association Sport answer some of the key questions about the decision to move away from the 32-team set-up.

The decision comes after Uefa expanded the European Championships to 24 teams from last summer's tournament.

"From the organisational standpoint, there will be more games, more training facilities but it increases the opportunity for revenue, for exposure".

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