My blogs are better enjoyed as a video than written I think, but here are both options for you all the same.
So there is a FIFA Council meeting in Zurich on 9th and 10th January.
Why should you care?
Because FIFA President and new supremo Gianni Infantino will be submitting his proposal to extend the world cup as we know it from 32 teams to a whopping 48 teams.
A 48 team world cup.
As if there isn’t enough dross in the tournament already, without adding another 16 teams.
So, this is the proposal from Infantino on which the council will vote on next week;
- Increase the number of teams to 48
- Increase the number of groups to 16
- Only 3 teams per group
- Top 2 teams from each group qualify for a knockout round featuring 32
Personally, I believe this is a terrible idea and hasn’t at all been thought out by the new President.
There are a few reasons why this is so poor which immediately spring to mind.
- To begin with groups of three teams mean that all the final games can’t possibly be played at the same time, leaving the groups open to manipulation and two teams potentially playing out a result favourable to them both (just as Germany and Austria did this in Spain ’82).
- It’s potentially terrible for the fans who travel. You might go halfway across the globe for just two games before you’re flying home again. As usual, FIFA puts the fans last.
- With the additional games involved does this limit the number of countries who could actually host the tournament? Not only in terms of the stadiums, but the infrastructure of the host cities too.
- Too many sub par teams will qualify meaning some shocking group matches.
- If two of the three teams qualify from every group anyway, what’s the point of the group games?!
I am guessing there are three main reasons why he’s pushing for this.
Firstly, that he’s trying to stamp his authority on FIFA by coming up with some radical changes to get his name on the map. I get that, it’s no bad thing, and anything which might improve the game should be discussed.
Secondly, in typical FIFA fashion, it’s all about the Benjamins.
More games, more countries, more sponsorships, more money. Kerching!
Thirdly, it’s likely that all the additional spots up for grabs would go to countries outside of Europe and South America. This is to appease other member associations ahead of Infantine’s likely presidential re-election campaign in 2019.
After all, if there is one thing FIFA is famous for, it’s the buying of votes!
So if it’s inevitable that there will be more teams involved from 2026 – Infantino himself was quoted as saying that global federations are “overwhelmingly in favour” of a 48 team tournament – then why not look at some of the other ways you could do it?
How about 12 groups of 4 with the top 2 of each group and then the next best 8 making up a knock-out phase of 32?
This would solve the problem of the teams not playing their final games at the same time, and the issue of teams potentially only playing twice, but would this be too many games?
Would the major club sides want their best players playing 8 games over the summer? I doubt it.
How about 8 groups of 6 with the top 2 progressing into the last 16? This sounds more exciting in my opinion, but then with each team getting a massive 5 group games each the winners would have to play 9 times to lift the trophy!
Whilst there are no details of it yet released, it’s believed there is also plan to discuss a 40 team option too.
Perhaps this would see 8 groups of 5 with the top two progressing or 10 groups of 4.
I actually prefer the idea of 8 groups, as there are more group games but again this opens up the chance of potential tomfoolery if two team collaborate for a given result in the final round of games.
Another option is rumoured to be a knockout round involving 32 teams playing for the right to join 16 others who have qualified by right. They then participate in a straight knockout.
This sounds horrid.
It would mean that a team could only play 5 games to win the tournament which I’m sure would sit well with many of the big clubs.
But think of the fans, FIFA!
How gutted would you be to spend thousands going across the world to see you team play one game and then potentially trek home again. Rubbish!
I guess we’ll know more after 10th January.
But what do you think? Is a 48 team world cup a good idea?
Do you think more teams should be added, or is it fine in the current format?
This one is sure to split opinions, so leave yours in the comments below as I’d love to hear them.