'Positive feeling' about expansion, Latest Football News - The New Paper

'Positive feeling' about expansion

Fifa chief Infantino says football federations are 
in favour of a bigger World Cup

Fifa president Gianni Infantino says world football's federations are "overwhelmingly in favour" of expanding the World Cup to a potential 48 teams.

Infantino is a strong advocate of opening the doors of the game's premier competition to more countries and Fifa has been investigating a number of formats which would allow greater participation than the current 32-team model.

Any change of structure would not be expected to take place before the 2026 tournament, but an agreement to do so could be struck when the Fifa council meets in Zurich on Jan 9.

Infantino said in October that there was a "positive feeling" about expansion and, on stage at the Dubai International Sports Conference yesterday, he appeared to suggest consensus was growing.

BBC Sport reported the Swiss telling the conference that regional federations were "overwhelmingly in favour" of the proposal.

Fifa, and Infantino, are now thought to prefer a competition with 16 groups of three, having initially considered a design that would see 16 teams eliminated after just one match, but expansion to 40 sides remains possible.

Infantino added that a 48-team tournament was the most financially appealing structure.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Infantino as saying: "I am still convinced to expand the participation in the World Cup to more than 32 teams.

"We would still consider to increase the competition to 40 or 48 teams.

"A tournament of 48 teams would have the same period of the current one, and federations are clearly in favour of a World Cup with more teams."