The Football World Cup will include 48 teams from the 2026 edition. Football governing body FIFA confirmed the report at a council meeting in Zurich.
The suggestion was backed “unanimously” according to FIFA on Twitter. The decision will prove a 50 percent jump from the present number of 32 teams.
The idea was masterminded by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who promised to increase the size of the tournament during his election rally.
Further, participating countries will be divided into 16 groups of three battling for the final showdown. Consequently, 80 matches will be played in the tournament in comparison to the current 64 games.
Particulars about the exact format will be provided by FIFA at the conclusion of the council meeting. However, it is anticipated that the top two teams in each group will proceed to knock-out rounds.
Furthermore, Penalty shoot-outs could also be held following draws in group matches.
The allotments of finals spots are probably to be decided at the FIFA Congress in May and will be tightly contested. It is pitched that more places in Africa and Asia will to host the event in future.
But the proposal to increase the size of the tournament has not been universally welcomed across the sports community. The European Clubs Association (ECA) has slandered the idea. ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge earlier said that the focus on the sport should be motivated. He further added that Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football.
However, the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar will stick with 32 teams.