London [UK], Jan. 10 : The FIFA Council has decided to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026, with FIFA president Gianni Infantino's revamp plan receiving unanimous backing.
The new format will be made up of 16 groups of three teams. "The FIFA Council unanimously decided on a 48-team #WorldCup as of 2026: 16 groups of 3 teams. Details to follow after the meeting," FIFA tweeted on its official media department Twitter handle. This is for the first time since the 1998 World Cup that changes have been made to the makeup of the tournament.
As per the Guardian, the FIFA boss's preferred option for change was the 2026 World Cup featuring the 16 groups followed by a 32-team knockout round, increasing the number of games from 64 to 80 but remaining inside a 32-day schedule.
Infantino, elected last February to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter, has been repeatedly saying that his main motivation for expansion is to give more nations a chance of experiencing the joy of a World Cup, which will bolster international football in developed markets and help its growth in new ones.