The FIFA World Cup will jump from 32 teams to 48

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.

FIFA Meets
source: flickr.com

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

How will it work?

tournament.

The addition of 16 more teams will mean groups are reduced from four to three sides, with swifter progression to the knockout stages.
Each nation will play the others in its group once, with the top two progressing to an enlarged knockout round comprising 32 teams. The number of games will rise from 64 to 80 but the competition will remain at 32 days in length.
It also guarantees each team will have at least two matches — Infantino’s initial plan envisaged a playoff round before the main group stage to eliminate 16 teams. Currently, the World Cup involves eight groups of four, with the top two going through the last 16 knockout round.

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