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Gianni Infantino: FIFA "to debate" 48-team World Cup

Speaking in Colombia, the FIFA president said that the body would genuinely consider expanding the tournament from its current 32-team format.

Gianni Infantino: FIFA "to debate" 48-team World Cup

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that he would like to expand the number of teams in the World Cup to 48 by adding a one-match playoff at the start of the tournament.

Infantino keen to consider an expanded World Cup

According to Infantino, under the new format, the 16 countries that finish highest in qualifying rounds for the 2026 World Cup would automatically make the group stage of the tournament.

The next 32 would play a match - a playoff - three days before the World Cup to decide the other 16,” he said during a university visit in Bogota, Colombia. Infantino was visiting the country in order to attend the final of the Futsal World Cup that took place this past Saturday.

The 2014 World Cup, won by Germany, was a 32-team tournament.
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The 2014 World Cup, won by Germany, was a 32-team tournament.

An incredible World Cup in terms of passion

“That way we would have 16 more teams qualifying for a final stage of the World Cup, in which they would be playing for a spot in the group stage in a match that amounts to an absolutely incredible final in terms of passion,” he continued.

It's an idea that we're going to debate,” he added.

In its current format the World Cup has 32 teams which play a group stage and then a series of knock-out rounds before the final.

Infantino was elected in February to replace Sepp Blatter, who was banned from football for six years for ethics violations in the wake of a massive corruption scandal at FIFA. He made expanding the World Cup a key point in his campaign platform and has in the past proposed expanding the group stage to 40 teams.


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