FIFA president Gianni Infantino backs plans for 48-team World Cup – reports

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has backed a World Cup with 48 teams taking part.

The format would involve 16 groups of three sides, compared with the current format of eight groups of four.

The increase of 16 sides overall means the top two teams would go through from each group to a round of 32 knockout stage.

The planned changes would come into force at the 2026 tournament and a source told AFP that “every qualified team would play at least two group matches. The top two in each group would then go through to the last 32.”

The BBC has also been told that Infantino wants to share “the World Cup experience with the world” with the new structure which would offter more teams a chance at the event.

The Swiss-Italian first mentioned the idea in October and said at the time: “Whether it will be 40 or 48, it was a positive discussion. I don’t agree it will dilute the quality.

“I would like to remind you that in the last World Cup, England and Italy were eliminated by Costa Rica. The level of football is increasing all over the world.

“In a 48-team format, the quality would be higher because the 32 teams would have a play off. The quality would improve and not decrease in any way.”

FIFA’s Council will meet in early January in Zurich to make the final decision.

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