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Explainer: The 5 options for Fifa’s expanded 48-team World Cup

Diego Maradona and David Trezeguet have offered their support for the 48-team tournament.

Image: Joe Giddens

ON TUESDAY, WORLD football’s governing council faces a key decision on the controversial plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who took charge of the scandal-tainted world body last year, has made expanding the World Cup from the current 32 teams the centrepiece of his administration.

But his plans have faced criticism including warnings that it will dilute the quality at football’s showcase event.

Infantino is intent on adding 16 countries for the 2026 World Cup. The hosting contest for the competition could formally begin in the coming weeks, with a co-hosted North American bid tipped as the best option.

Infantino has been courting support from powerful figures within the game, with Diego Maradona recently offering his support.

“It sounds like a fantastic idea to me,” Maradona told reporters at Fifa’s Zurich headquarters.

“This will give more possibilities to countries that have never reached that level of competition.”

Former French international David Trezeguet said more World Cup berths could give “possibilities to countries and especially players who have never experienced this beautiful competition”, while acknowledging that details still needed to be worked out.

Infantino says that money should not drive any decision, but a confidential Fifa report seen by AFP projects that a 48-team tournament would bring a cash boost of €605 million above projected revenues for next year’s finals in Russia.

The influential council will review five proposals on Tuesday: leaving the World Cup unchanged at 32 teams, two proposals for a 40-team competition and two 48-team scenarios.

Infantino is said to be backing a 48-team option with 16 groups of three, which would come into effect for the 2026 competition.

C1uP6NMW8AACzyf Source: Rob Harris/Twitter

Any decision made Tuesday will have to be approved by Fifa’s full 211 members at the body’s next congress.

– © AFP 2017

Additional reporting by Kevin O’Brien

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