International

FIFA closer to implementing 48-team World Cup

Global football federations are “overwhelmingly in favour” of plans for a 48-team World Cup, Fifa president Gianni Infantino says.

The head of football’s governing body outlined his vision for an expanded tournament comprising 16 groups of three teams earlier this month.

The top two teams in each group would progress to the knockout rounds.

A decision will be made in January but any change to the 32-team format is unlikely to come in before 2026.

Fifa’s council will discuss the proposal at a meeting on 9 January but Infantino, 46, made expansion part of his election manifesto.

“We have to be more inclusive,” he said at a sports conference in Dubai, adding that a 48-team tournament was the most financially appealing.

The number of competing teams at World Cups last changed in 1998, increasing from 24 to 32.

The European Club Association, which represents the region’s leading clubs, has rejected calls for the World Cup to be expanded.

Infantino also said experiments around video technology in refereeing at the recent Club World Cup had been “very positive” and that he hoped the system would be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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