All you need to know about FIFA’s World Cup expansion plans

first_imgOne option on the table is to continue with the tournament in its current format. A vote can be cast to preserve the status quo and a 32-team tournament.There are two options that would lead to the competition increasing by eight teams to have 40 participants. The first would have the 40 teams split into eight groups of five. The top side in each group would go through to quarter finals then semi-finals, a third place play-off and a final. Sacrificing the last 16 round means there would be 80 group matches and just eight knock-out games. The second option to increase the participants to 40 teams but instead have ten groups of four. This would keep the last 16 round and would presumably see ten group winners and the best six second-placed teams proceed to a knockout stage like the existing format.There are also two options for a 48-team World Cup from 2026. The first would bring a radical change to the competition, introducing a play-off stage. That would involve a 32-team play-off stage to take place before a group stage and knock-out rounds.The second has 48 teams split into 16 groups of three.The top two from each group would progress to the knock-out stages. This could create the possibility of sides playing for draws and mutual benefit in the group stage so penalty shoot-outs in the group stage may be introduced.Support: Gianni Infantino wants to deliver a bigger competition. PAFIFA president Gianni Infantino has said there is strong support for a 48-team World Cup and the format with 16 groups of three is expected to be the preferred option.Infantino included an expanded competition in his manifesto when running to succeed Sepp Blatter and his election suggests widespread support for change.While some feel expansion will dilute the level of competition and introduce more one-sided games before the larger nations compete the knockout stages, others feel more sides will freshen up the tournament.A bigger finals tournament also means more money for FIFA. The governing body has projected a significant hike in revenue, saying that a 48-team tournament could deliver an estimated $640m more.David Gill: Englishman is on FIFA’s 37-member council. PAWhile FIFA has 211 member nations, the decision over expansion will be made by the organisation’s 37-member FIFA Council on Tuesday.Led by president Gianni Infantino, there is no Scottish representation on the council with England’s David Gill serving as a vice-president. World Cup expansion is one of the early items of the agenda and so a decision could be known fairly early on Tuesday.Timetable: The format will not change until 2026. PAThe changes would take effect for the 2026 World Cup, which is likely to take place in North America. The United States has expressed their desire to host the tournament but is yet to decide whether to launch a solo bid or join forces with Mexico.After hosting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Canada now want to bring the men’s competition to their country for the first time.Nations interested in the tournament still have time to make up their minds, with a consultation phase set to run until May before more time for bid preparation between June 2017 and December 2018. Any vote on the 2026 venue won’t be held until 2020 as FIFA bids to avoid a repeat of the controversies which marred voting for 2018 and 2022.Where the extra places would be allocated is to be decided at a later date but there is likely to be plenty of lobbying on that front. Every confederation will be looking to take more teams. FIFA officials will vote on Tuesday to decide on the future format of the World Cup finals with plans to expand the competition to as many as 48 teams.The tournament has been unchanged since 1998 but a raft of options are now on the table, including more teams from each confederation being admitted and the introduction of penalty shoot-outs for group stage games.Changes would not take place until 2026, with the format already locked down for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, but the pinnacle of world football could look very different within a decade. We have looked at the details of the proposals and how the decision will be made.last_img read more