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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 18 June, 2019

Is the World Cup about to get a major makeover?

A proposal to increase the tournament to 40 teams will be discussed later today.

Image: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

FIFA ARE CONTEMPLATING expanding the World Cup to a 40-team tournament from 2026, according to reports from Zurich this morning.

It’s believed that the move is to placate the majority of Fifa’s 209 member associations, who feel that Uefa currently carries too much dominance every four years.

From the 32 teams set to compete at the 2018 edition, 14 of them will belong to the European confederation. To put it in context, a team from Oceania needs to compete in a play-off to qualify and has never been guaranteed a place.

Fifa does not need the votes of its members to carry out the proposal – the executive committee can do it themselves.

The plan will be discussed later today as the governing body meets in Switzerland to discuss various reform ideas.

Soccer - FIFA Flag Source: Jon Buckle/PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s widely believed that such a radical plan is being mooted so the majority of members will agree to pass basic reform strategies that will be put forward at Fifa congress next February.

Fifa have had a long, difficult relationship with attempting to change its ways. Despite numerous corruption scandals having engulfed the sports body in the last number of years, they have fallen well short of increasing transparency.

Following the morning raids in Zurich back in May, the aggressive campaign by US and Swiss authorities that have led to numerous arrests and suspensions and the continued blow-back of the entire sorry saga, Fifa is in the mire and desperate to claw its way out.

Pushing reform through is crucial to winning back any sort of respect and with a new president set to be sworn in early next year, progress will need to be made.

However, as much as the World Cup has been increased before (from 24 to 32 teams in 1998), this bigger format will certainly prove a logistical nightmare with close to 100 games needing to be played.

Given the controversy surrounding the 2018 and 2022 tournaments already, it’s a risky move from Fifa to try and push further alterations to a traditional approach.

There have been even more arrests of Fifa officials accused of taking bribes

Wins over Germany and Bosnia have done wonders for Ireland’s Fifa ranking

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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