One of the election promises of The FIFA president Gianni Infantino was expanding the World Cup finals to 40 countries. Adding to this proposal the current FIFA head on Monday announced a proposal for an even bigger tournament which will play 48 teams. This was confirmed by a news report from Reuters.
Infantino clarified that in the proposed plan 16 of those teams will be eliminated after a knockout match and subsequently the tournament would be played with a 32-team group stage, after which there will be the knockout stage.
The FIFA head disclosed this while speaking at an event at Bogota’s Sergio Arboleda University. According to him a final decision on the proposed changes will be taken by the FIFA Council which takes place in January next year. This was reported by Colombian news agencies which were subsequently confirmed by a FIFA spokesman.
Infantino said that the proposals are intended to find the best solution and he and his colleagues in FIFA will debate on the same in this month and will come out with a conclusive decision by 2017. He said, “They are ideas which we put forward to see which one is the best.”
The FIFA president said that according to his proposed reforms an initial knockout round involving 32 teams will be played in the host country. The 16 winners who will emerge out of this stage will proceed to the group stage. Again in the group stage, another 16 seeded teams will be eliminated.
Infantino said that the proposal involves 16 teams qualifying directly to the group stage. And the remaining 32 teams will play in a preliminary phase. The matches of the 32 teams will be played in the country where the World Cup is going to be hosted. These 32 teams will compete for the remaining 16 places.
According to him this new proposal, while ensuring the format of playing 32 teams the world Cup, will now additionally allow another 16 teams to be involved in the games. According to Infantino, through this proposal, FIFA will be able to achieve its goal to develop this sport in the world. According to the FIFA, president football is more than a competition. He feels it’s a social event.
Infantino was elected as the FIFA president in February this year replacing infamous Sepp Blatter who is facing a six-year ban for violation of ethics.
One of the key features of Infantino’s election manifesto was to expand the Football Word Cup to 40 teams which was criticised by some, suggesting that this proposed change might hamper in the process of finding a suitable format.
Joachim Loew, who is the current coach of the German football team seemed to disapprove this proposal saying that a larger tournament would dilute the sporting value of the game which is popular all over the world.
Joachim Loew seems to have support from European football teams who have shown strong opposition on increasing the number of teams.