Fifa’s Infantino claims 48-team World Cup will boost football worldwide
The Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has robustly defended the decision to expand the World Cup from 32 competing national teams to 48, which will begin with the 2026 tournament, in the face of immediate criticism from top European clubs. At a meeting in Zurich, Fifa’s rule-making council unanimously passed the new format, which will create a first round of 16 groups, from which two of three teams will qualify and proceed to a knockout competition beginning with 32 countries.
Fifa has projected that the increase to 48 countries will generate around $1bn more income, and $640m profit, from greater television rights and sponsorship. Infantino said the money will be reinvested in football; he has promised all Fifa’s 211 member countries’ associations $5m a year to aid development.