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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

World Cup madness: 48 countries, 16 groups of 3 Teams Each In First Round

How the World Cup will look from 2026 after FIFA agreed to increase the number of teamsĀ 


World Cup madness: 48 countries, 16 groups (yes, that's 3 teams in each) and penalty shoot-outs in group matches... FIFA chiefs vote for bloated new format 

  • FIFA Council have unanimously approved a World Cup of 48 teams
  • The tournament currently has 32 sides in eight groups of four
  • From 2026, the competition will have 16 groups of three teams 
The FIFA Council have unanimously approved a 48-team World Cup from 2026 at a vote in Zurich.
The plans overseen by president Gianni Infantino mean the tournament will now begin with 16 groups of three teams, with the top two advancing into a 32 team knock-out stage.
Infantino has previously suggested FIFA could introduce penalty shoot-outs after group matches that end in a draw in order to stop teams playing for a result that favours them both.
Germany won the World Cup back in 2014 - the tournament will soon have 48 teams
Germany won the World Cup back in 2014 - the tournament will soon have 48 teams
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has seen the competition expanded to 48 nations
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has seen the competition expanded to 48 nations
How the World Cup will look from 2026 after FIFA agreed to increase the number of teamsĀ 
How the World Cup will look from 2026 after FIFA agreed to increase the number of teams 
There will be a total of 80 games under the new format. Currently, in the 32-team schedule, 64 matches are played overall.
But if a team finishes in the last four in the 2026 tournament, they will have played seven matches, the same number as a 32-team World Cup.
There were also options for the 37-member FIFA Council to vote for a 40-team tournament, with 10 groups of four or eight groups of five, but the only other 48-team proposal saw a 32-team one-game knockout round with the winners joining 16 already-qualified teams.
European places at the competition will likely rise from 13 to 16. Africa and Asia could have as many as nine teams each. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil they had five and four teams respectively. FIFA could decide by May how many entries each continent has.
The other major decision regarding 2026 - who will host the event - is not scheduled for consideration until 2020 with a bid featuring the United States, either on its own or in conjunction with one or both of Canada and Mexico, an early favourite.
Extra teams also means increased revenue for FIFA. Their research suggests that an expanded tournament would rake in an additional £521million profit on the current format.
They have calculated that tournament revenue would increase to £5.29billion with 48 teams, working on the projected revenue of next year's 32-team World Cup in Russia. 
Infantino's expansion plans, which he made public during his election campaign to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter as president, have been fiercely criticised by the European Club Association (ECA) but have been backed by the likes of Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Argentina icon Diego Maradona.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has come out in support of a 48-team World Cup
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has come out in support of a 48-team World Cup
Diego Maradona, pictured with Infantino, has backed plans for World Cup expansion
Diego Maradona, pictured with Infantino, has backed plans for World Cup expansion
The ECA, of which Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and United are all members, said in a statement reacting to the news on Tuesday: 'The European Club Association reiterates that it is in principle not in favour of an expanded World Cup.
'We fail to see the merits to changing the current format of 32 that has proven to be the perfect formula from all perspectives. Questionable is also the urgency in reaching such an important decision, with nine years to go until it becomes applicable, without the proper involvement of stakeholders who will be impacted by this change.
'We understand that this decision has been taken based on political reasons rather than sporting ones and under considerable political pressure, something ECA believes is regrettable.
'ECA will analyse in detail the impact and the consequences of the new format and will address the matter at the next meeting of its executive board scheduled for the end of January.' 
But Mourinho and Maradona have previously spoken of their belief that there are many positives to the alterations.
Mourinho said:  'I'm totally in favour. As a club manager, if the expansion meant more games, less holidays and less pre-season for players, I would say no.
'It's important for critics to analyse and understand that expansion doesn't mean more matches. Players are protected and clubs are protected in this way. Teams with less potential and experience will probably play two matches and go home.
'But they would do so having improved and gained experience on the pitch, which would be added to the economic rewards of appearing at the finals - including further investment in their footballing infrastructure.' 
Maradona said: 'I'm delighted by Gianni's initiative because it gives chances to teams that otherwise would start the qualifiers knowing they had no chance of getting to the World Cup.
'It gives each country the dream and it renews the passion for football, it appears to me to be a fantastic idea.' 

WORLD CUP Q&A 

Q: How exactly will the group stages work?
Each team plays twice in their three-team group. The top two advance into the last 32, which will be a knock-out stage.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has hinted that group matches ending in a draw could be decided by a penalty shoot-out, in order to stop sides playing for a result in a game to favour them both. 
Q:  What other impact will 48 teams have on the tournament?  
More teams means more games. 80 matches will take place at the 2026 World Cup, as opposed to the current total of 64. However, if a team finishes in the last four, they will have played seven matches, the same total as with the current format.
FIFA have also estimated that their profits would rise by around £520million with the expansion.
Q: Where will the 2026 World Cup be held?
It is not known where the tournament will be played yet, but with Asia and Europa barred from bidding as they host the next two events, the United States are expected to make an offer. They could either be sole bidders, or come forward with a joint proposal alongside Mexico or Canada.
With 48 teams naming squads of 23, there will be 1,104 players heading to the 2026 World Cup. That, and the increased number of fans that will travel to watch the competition which takes place once every four years, are all factors which will favour larger countries, such as the United States, hosting the tournament.
Q: Why did president Infantino want the World Cup expanded?
Infantino vowed to increase the number of teams competing in the showpiece event when he was campaigning to replace his disgraced predecessor, Sepp Blatter, at the helm of FIFA.
His proposal appealed to more of the 211 FIFA members, many of whom do not reach the tournament. Infantino initially spoke of increasing the number of competitors to 40, before raising it again to 48.
Confederations outside of Europe have felt disadvantaged with entries to the World Cup for many years.

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