FIFA boss says football federations back expanded World Cup

Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:07am EST
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By Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) - Football federations are "overwhelmingly in favor" of expanding the existing 32-nation World Cup, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Wednesday.

The global football federation boss wants to increase the number of teams playing in the World Cup final tournament to 48, arguing that it can be done in the same time frame as the current tournament.

"We have to be more inclusive," Infantino said at a sports conference in Dubai, adding that a 48-team tournament was the most financially appealing.

Infantino is proposing a 48-team format with an initial round of 16 groups of three teams. The top two teams of each group would qualify for a round of 32 knockout stage, then round of 16, quarter finals, semi-finals and final.

There would be little to no impact on players under the proposed format with the winning team still playing seven games in 32 days as they do in the current 32-team World Cup, the FIFA boss argued.

A total of 80 games would be played compared with the current 64 games.

When he was elected in February, Infantino had promised to expand the tournament from the 32 teams to 40.

CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani told Reuters he supported the expansion plans but said he would like to see the proportional number of places awarded to each federation to remain the same as today.   Continued...

Paris St Germain coach Unai Emery speaks after receiving the Special Award trophy as FIFA President Gianni Infantino stands next to him during the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards Ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 27, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer