Souness welcomes 40-team World Cup concept

Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:08am EST
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By Mike Collett

LONDON (Reuters) - Former Scotland captain Graeme Souness is backing the idea of expanding the World Cup to 40 teams if it helps maintain what he describes as "a golden age" for soccer.

The idea, first seriously mooted by banned UEFA president Michel Platini, has gained momentum recently and Souness believes it is the right time to implement it.

"Right now we are enjoying a golden age because there is so much public interest in football and we have to keep it going," he told Reuters.

"If the same countries are constantly excluded by not qualifying for these major competitions, that interest might start to wane.

"There are a lot of African and Asian teams where the game is building, so I think why not give them a chance?"

Platini, who like Souness played in the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, is suspended after being caught up in the scandals surrounding world governing body FIFA but other senior figures have championed the idea of expanding the tournament.

FIFA presidential candidates Gianni Infantino and Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan included it in their manifestos ahead of next month's election.

"You can say there might be some easier games with more teams, but there aren't a lot of easy games at international level now because the so-called 'lesser nations' have foreign coaches now who can get them organized and make them difficult to beat," Souness said.   Continued...