—For soccer fans who can’t get enough of the World Cup, FIFA could have some good news.
The organization will expand the number of teams eligible for the FIFA World Cup from 32 to 48, a decision that passed unanimously in a vote Tuesday. The change, which will be the largest single addition to the slew of competitors in FIFA’s history, is slated to come into effect in time for the 2026 World Cup. The addition will shift the month-long event’s structure, likely adding more matchups to the tournament.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, fulfilling a promise he made during last year’s election campaign, said the move meant that “more can participate and many more will have a chance to dream”.
“It’s not the 20th century any more. It’s the 21st century.
Football is more than Europe and South America. Football is global,” he told reporters.
“The football fever you have in a country that qualifies for the World Cup is the biggest promotion of the sport you can have.”
FIFA’s 211 member associations each hold one vote in the presidential election, and 135 of them have never played at a World Cup, so expansion of the tournament was always likely to appeal.
Currently, eligible teams are organized into four groups of eight that play concurrently in an initial round. From there, the top two contenders move onto the final 16, when the cup shifts to a straight knockout format.
An expanded version of the tournament would likely feature 16 groups of three teams each, with the top two from each group in the first round moving on to a 32-team knockout phase. That would likely boost the number of games from 64 to 80, but the cup’s champion would still only play seven games throughout the
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