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BREAKING: FIFA Approve Plans For A 48-Team World Cup

BREAKING: FIFA Approve Plans For A 48-Team World Cup

An unanimous decision was made in Zurich.

Josh Lawless

Josh Lawless

The idea of a 48-man World Cup has been floating around for a while now and it has now been confirmed today that in a meeting in Zurich, FIFA chiefs have confirmed that they have voted in favour of the format being altered for the 2026 World Cup - with 48 teams instead of the usual 32.

211 members of the FIFA council had their say on the matter, with a number of different options to explore and ultimately select.

Two 40-team plans, two 48-team plans and the current 32-team model were all said to be possible formats under consideration and the final decision was to pick the 48-team option that will see 16 groups - with three teams in each group.

The top two performing teams from each group will qualify for the 32-team knockout stage, with only the third-place nations being eliminated in the group stage - a change from the existing format that sees two sides from each group exit the tournament.

Since 1998, the format has comprised of 8 groups of 4 teams, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the knockout stages.

In 2026, the number of overall games in the tournament will increase from 64 to 80, though the team who go on and win the tournament will still only play seven games throughout the tournament, which is the exact same amount that Germany played in their 2014 success three years ago.

UEFA changed things up in the European Championships last year when Euro 2016 had 24 teams as opposed to the usual 16.

A host of high profile figures in football such as Jose Mourinho and Carles Puyol have advocated a 48-team World Cup, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino the brains behind the revised format.

There has also been talk of FIFA introducing penalty shoot-outs in group games that end in draws to prevent fixtures being rigged - whereby two teams ally so that they both progress to the knockout phase.

Back in December, at a conference in Dubai, Infantino said the expanded World Cup would significantly improve the "development of football around the world" and that "there is nothing bigger in terms of boosting football in a country than participating in a World Cup".

Though Infantino has stressed that the plans are not purely based on finance, as per The Independent, the new format is expected to make an extra $1 billion.

The destination of the tournament in 2026 is yet to be revealed and will not be decided until 2020. Infantino will hold a briefing with the media today, where he will provide further information on the plans.

What are your thoughts on today's big news? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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