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If FIFA Have Their Way, 48 Teams Will Compete In The 2026 World Cup

Darren Holland
By Darren Holland
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In FIFA's quest to tarnish the game beyond repair, President Gianni Infantino is pondering the idea of a 48 team for the 2026 World Cup.

If implemented, it would result in a qualifying round taking place preceding the group stage. It would consist of lowest ranked teams competing for a spot in the World Cup proper. As for the losing teams? They exit the tournament having only played one match. It is crazy to think that that the smaller nations will have a financial burden inflicted on them for potentially just a single game.

Speaking at a meeting in France, earlier today, he said;

I like 48 because it gives a particular flavor, but I'm still really torn.

Everyone wants an expansion. Some favor 40 teams, others 48.

Everyone sees that the increase of the participation for the World Cup is really a tool to promote football in more countries.

Of course - despite what Mr.Infantino says - there is an argument to be made that the majority of people prefer the current 32 team format. If implemented, the competition would have increased from 16 teams in 1978 to more than double the size by 2016.


While FIFA will argue that enlarging the tournament in both 1982 (24 teams) and 1998 (32 teams) brought progression to the game in other regions - namely Africa and Asia - it is difficult to make that case.


Underdog stories are so fondly remembered because they are exactly that - underdog stories. Some of the most memorable World Cup moments are when the favourites are left red faced when a seemingly lesser known player pops up to shock the nation.

For example, when Papa Baba Dioup put the ball past Barthez to break French hearts in 2002. Or, South Africa's, Katlego Mphela sliding the ball past Hugo Lloris to break French hearts...again in 2010. Classic World Cup moments that the footballing world (apart from France) reveled in.



The argument can be made that increasing the amount of teams will provide more of these historic moments, but hosting a preliminary round before the group stage between 'weaker nations' does not exactly raise the curtain on the most watched tournament in the world.

Yet all the FIFA spin-doctoring on the planet can't hide the fact that the method to their madness lies behind increased advertisement revenue. Simply put, more matches equates to more money.


Infantino's comments appear to have been generally met with disdain in Europe but there is every possibility that the majority of FIFA's members will eventually vote to pass the proposal as it will result in more nations from Asia, Africa and Oceania participating in the tournament.

The only real positive to come from Infantino's comments is that Ireland may finally have the opportunity to become the 33rd team - much to the delight of John Delaney.


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