Dublin: 4°C Saturday 4 December 2021

Fifa Council unanimously approve 48-team World Cup proposal

The new format will be introduced in 2026.

The World Cup is set to be increased to 48 teams.
The World Cup is set to be increased to 48 teams.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FIFA COUNCIL HAVE unanimously approved proposals for a 48-team World Cup, it has been confirmed, with a format of 16 groups of three nations as of 2026.

The beneficiaries of these extra spots have yet to be confirmed, though it is believed each confederation are likely to see their representation increased by varying degrees.

The decision marks a major coup for the body’s president Gianni Infantino who has made enlarging football’s showcase event the centrepiece of his young administration.

The controversial proposal has faced criticism from some of the sport’s most powerful voices, including warnings that it would dilute the quality of play and overburden already exhausted players.

But Infantino had in recent weeks voiced confidence that his flagship project would be approved.

While noting that a bigger tournament would bring in more money, the Fifa chief has also argued that more World Cup berths would help drive football’s global growth.

Africa and Asia could be the big winners in a larger format with a rise in their number of places, currently at 5 and 4.5 respectively.


Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership.

Become a Member

But in order to smooth over scepticism about World Cup reform within Uefa, it is likely that Europe will also see its allotments rise above the current 13 places.

Additional reporting by AFP

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

‘I was like a ghost’ – Hazard reflects on Chelsea struggles in 2015-16>

Liverpool forward Firmino moved to ‘safehouse’ following burglary>

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

Read next: