Fifa President Infantino ‘Has Support’ For Expanded World Cup

Fifa President Gianni Infantino
Fifa President Gianni Infantino

International football federations have thrown their weight behind plans for a 48-team World Cup, Fifa president Gianni Infantino is reported to have said.

The Fifa boss had earlier this month explained his vision for an expanded tournament comprising 16 groups of three teams.

In the proposed new format, the top two teams in each group would progress to the knockout rounds.

And a decision will be made in January but any change to the current format is not likely to be realised before 2026.

Football governing body’s council will discuss the proposal at a meeting on 9 January but 46-year-old Infantino made expansion part of his election manifesto.

“We have to be more inclusive,” he said at a sports conference in Dubai, adding that a 48-team tournament was the most financially appealing.

Since 1998, the number of competing teams at World Cups has not changed. It was increased from 24 to 32 for the France ’98 tournament.

The European Club Association, which represents the region’s leading clubs, was reported to have rejected calls for the World Cup to be expanded.

Infantino also has his eyes focused on video technology. He was reported to have rated its use at the recent Club World Cup as “very positive” and that he hoped the system would be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The system was first used to award a penalty in Kashima Antlers’ semi-final win over Atletico Nacional, with the referee alerted by an assistant watching a monitor.

But there was confusion in the other semi-final between Real Madrid and Club America when the technology was used again.

After the referee asked for a consultation following a Cristiano Ronaldo goal, play briefly restarted from a free-kick for an infringement before the goal was eventually allowed to stand.

Infantino said tests in Japan had moved the system in “the right direction” but added “there is still a bit of fine-tuning to be made”.

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