World Cup expansion approved for 2026

The recent proposal for an expansion of the World Cup has now been approved, from 2026 onwards. A meeting in Zurich on Tuesday 10 January saw a unanimous vote for the expansion from football’s world governing body.

The expansion will include an extra 16 nations in the tournament, taking the total from 32 to 48 teams. The total number of games in the tournament is set to rise from 64 to 80.

Gianni Infantino – the president of FIFA – has been at the forefront of the proposal and has promoted the benefits of the expansion. He stated that the World Cup needs to be more inclusive. He said:

“There is nothing bigger in terms of boosting football in a country than participating in a World Cup”.

When the expansion proposal was first mentioned, it received a lot of criticism and rejection.

One criticism claimed that the expansion is money orientated and risks ruining the tournament for the sake of a profit. The expansion has been predicted to make a £521m profit rise following FIFA’s research, due to the increased number of games.

There hadn’t been a need for a change to the tournament since its last expansion back in 1998. Some argue that there is still no need for change, arguing that if a format already runs smoothly, why risk ruining it?

Chloe Hannah from Swinton is a huge football fan and she told TNT her opinion on the expansion:

“It’s something that changes the dynamics of the competition completely. It has positives in regards to equality of other nations. Football is a worldwide sport so it’s a great thing that other countries are now being included.

“However I’m not sure about the way it will now have to be structured in terms of the group stages. It’s risky and maybe expanding the tournament will be a bit too much”.

Only time will tell if the expansion changes football for better or for worse.

TNT Sport

Photo Credit: Mariya Butd

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