The World Cup will be expanded to host 48 countries instead of 32. It was a unanimous outcome of the meeting held in Zurich on Tuesday.
But no need to worry, we’ll still be able to enjoy the good old format of 32 teams for the next couple of tournaments. The changes are bound to take place from 2026(host nation undecided).
According to the president of the organisation, Gianni Infantino, it’s an attempt to make football “more inclusive”. “It is the future. Football is more than just Europe and South America, football is global”, he added. And we can wholeheartedly get on board with this. So what about the money? How much revenue would FIFA be able to muster out of this grand event? According to FIFA’s calculations, a whopping £5.29bn is predicted for this 48-team World Cup, giving a potential hike of over £521 m. The number of matches will rise to 80(from 64), but the eventual winners will still play only seven games. Also, the whole event will be wrapped up in 32 days, much to the delight of the “Big Boys” of club football.
So how will the tournament work?
As per plans, we’ll have 16 groups consisting of 3 teams each. Top 2 will make it out of the groups, and then we’ll settle into a more traditional knock-out kind of routine with the remaining 32. The intention is not only to include more countries into the mix but to make the tournament look more lively. We have encountered pretty drab matches in the past & FIFA wants to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore. Jose Mourinho seems particularly excited by the idea, as he thinks it’ll make the group stages way more exciting. 180 minutes of football to book your tickets. Either you go forth, or you go home. Also, there is a rumour flying around that every match will end in a positive result. If you can’t settle it in 90 mins, the game goes to penalties. Personally, I think it’s a very cruel way to settle a game & want this little rumour to stay that way. FIFA are still ironing out the details about those extra slots but it is rumoured that the footballing hotbeds will have more slots than one of the regulars(*cough South America cough*).
The more the merrier is a very popular phrase, & hopefully, it’ll stand true for the grandest show on earth. All eyes on FIFA’s mission 2026.
P.S: It also makes India’s qualification a tad more probable so kudos, FIFA.