Fifa president Gianni Infantino wants to expand the World Cup finals to 48 teams featuring 16 groups of three starting with the 2026 tournament, a source within world football’s governing body told AFP on Wednesday.
Infantino, who had until now proposed a 48-team event but with a traditional 32 countries advancing to the finals, will submit his latest proposal at a Fifa Council meeting in Zurich on January 9-10.
A letter outlining the new format was due to be sent to the members of the Fifa Council on Wednesday, the source said, adding that the format was “preferred by president Infantino.”
Under the new format, the source said, “every qualified team would play at least two group matches. The top two in each group would then go through to the last 32.”
The FIFA Council will vote on several proposals at their January meeting: whether to maintain the current World Cup format of 32 teams, extend it to 40 teams or go to 48 teams.
Infantino, formerly Michel Platini’s right-hand man at Uefa, said recently he was in favour of a World Cup jointly organised by several countries to share out the burden of providing facilities for the tournament.
“We don’t want white elephants,” he said in reference to stadiums that have been built for past World Cups and then left without a purpose after the tournament. “We want facilities that will last.”