FIFA president Gianni Infantino has strongly hinted there could be a 48-team World Cup in the near future, following on from the success of Euro 2016’s expansion.
As part of Infantino’s manifesto when running for the FIFA presidency, he proposed the World Cup be expanded from 32 teams to 40, but that number appears to have been raised again following the 46-year-old’s latest comments.
Pleased with the expanded Euros this summer, the eight additional places at the World Cup could now jump to 16, with Infantino suggesting that the tournament could be revamped with a preliminary phase to reach the group stages, all taking place in the host country.
“The idea is that 16 teams would qualify directly to the group stage and the other 32 would play in a preliminary phase, in the country where the World Cup is being played; they would play for the remaining 16 places,” the president told the Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota on a visit (via Eurosport).
“It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party.
“FIFA’s idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event there is. It’s more than a competition, it’s a social event.
“These are ideas to find the best solution, we will debate them this month and we will decide everything by 2017. They are ideas which we put forward to see which one is the best.”
Portugal benefited greatly from the revamped format at the Euros, qualifying from their group as one of the best third-placed nations and progressing all the way to the final, beating hosts France 1-0 at the Stade de France.
With that in mind, this potential change to the World Cup could have a significant impact on the eventual winner.