FIFA chief backs World Cup and Club World Cup expansion

Yokohama, Dec 17 (IANS) World football governing body FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Saturday that there was “no downside” to expanding the number of teams playing in the World Cup from 32 to 40 or 48.

“Even a 48-team format does not require more matches per team, a maximum of seven matches, like today. It does not require more days in the tournament, 32 days, like today. It does not require more stadiums, 12, like today,” he said at a press conference, reports Xinhua.

“There will be no impact on the health or the fatigue of the players because we have same number of the matches. The only difference is that eight or six more countries will participate in the biggest event to celebrate, to boost, to promote football, there is no downside, there is only upside,” he added.

Infantino has proposed expanding the World Cup participants from the current 32 to 40 or 48. He said the proposal would be presented in January to members of the FIFA Council.

“The agenda is next January. We are getting different feedbacks and comments. We are FIFA, we are taking into account every continent, that is why we make the proposal,” he said.

The 46-year-old also backs the idea to make a bigger Club World Cup, which he hopes could be a 32-team format as early as 2019.

“The Club World Cup loses part of the impact because it is in the middle of the leagues, we put it on the table if there can be a better format, if everyone is happy, why not?” he said.