This is the first time since the 1998 World Cup that changes have been made to the makeup of the tournament, with the 2026 competition set to feature 16 groups of three.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s preferred option for change was for a 2026 competition featuring 16 groups of three, followed by a 32-team knockout, increasing the number of games from 64 to 80 but remaining inside a 32-day schedule.
“We have to shape the football World Cup of the 21st century,” said Infantino, who also promised funding increases for FIFA’s 211 member federations at his election last February.
“No guarantees have been made,” Infantino said.
“The only sure thing is that obviously with 48 teams everyone will have a bit more than they have today.”
The new FIFA president has repeatedly said his main motivation for expansion is to give more nations a chance of experiencing the joy of a World Cup, which will bolster international football in developed markets and help its growth in new ones.
But this is all about money. FIFA’s own research suggests that an expanded tournament would rake in an additional £521 million profit on the current format.
World football’s governing body has calculated that tournament revenue would increase to £5.29 billion with 48 teams, working on the projected revenue of next year’s 32-team World Cup in Russia.
What do you think about the decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams? It is the right decision?