International Football Teams
- 16 groups of three teams
- Top two qualify for last 32
- Knock-out stage from last 32 onwards
- 80 matches in total
- 32-day tournament
- UEFA want at least 16 places for European teams
- Africa and Asia could see allocation increased from their total of five
- USA, Canada and Mexico set to host the finals
The figures are mind-bogging with the sport’s governing body set to snare at least £800 million more in broadcasting, commercial and revenue from matches than the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Revenue is estimated to rise to £5.29 million with 48 teams.
FIFA estimate they could pocket £2.96 billion in 2026 compared to £2.55 billion from next year’s event in Russia.
Imagine if the nouveau riche of China, a decade down the road with their decadent Super League, qualify for such an event? The advantages of such an scenario for FIFA are obvious.
Little wonder Germany lamented this decision as a dilution of the quality of such a great tournament. It is a dereliction of duty to the sport.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is up for re-election in 2019, and giving extras places to Africa and Asia is wise enough for him to secure vital votes to achieve that outcome. He was only elected on his election promise from 2016. He defended his position on Tuesday, echoing statements made in Dubai last month.
Gianni Infantino addresses reporters in Zurich.Eurosport"There are many upsides to the 48-team format, not least financially, but the decision should not just be financially driven alone, it’s also appealing because the sporting element prevails and every game will be important, expanding is also for the development of football and boosting the game all over the world."
FIFA's call makes no sense from a sporting perspective. Qualifying will become a pointless exercise with every major nation at little risk of failing to make it due to the added 16 teams. If we are going to 48, why not push for more at the finals? After all, more countries means more cash. Or let's have a World Cup every year.
International football is already a poor second to the club game with the annual Champions League long since leaving the World Cup behind as the ultimate exhibition of football skills.
The European Club Association, which represents 220 clubs in football’s continental heartlands, summed up the general sentiment of supporters.