Zurich, January 10: The footballing fraternity has seen a major change in the pattern of the sport with the decision of FIFA to include 48 teams instead of just 32 in the World Cup on the morning of January 10. The decision came after FIFA decided to brush aside concerns related to lowering the overall standards of the game and the making it long and unwieldy.
The decisions have been approved at a FIFA Council meeting in Zurich on Tuesday.
The council unanimously voted in favour of the new format, which will involve 16 groups of three teams that will see the top two qualify for a knockout round of 32 games. The decisions are set to be implemented from 2026.
The plans will see the total number of games increase from 64 to 80, although teams will still play a similar number of matches during the World Cup. The four semi-finalists will play seven games – the same as the current model.
The plan to expand was driven by both political and financial reasons. FIFA’s new president, Gianni Infantino, had suggested the changes even when he ran for the presidency last year, as a way to invigorate the event and to include more countries in the tournament.
The new format is expected to generate around $1bn extra for the international governing body from the World Cup alone.
Sources: 1] Indian Express