Infantino kicks off talks on World Cup expansion
Paris, November 23
FIFA president Gianni Infantino wrapped up the first of 11 executive meetings with federation representatives on Wednesday by saying those gathered in Paris were all in favour of expanding the World Cup.
Infantino is all for growing the cash cow tournament from 32 to as many as 48 teams. A 48-team format would see 16 group winners of a qualifying round automatically book a place in the tournament, while an additional 32 teams would compete in a new pre-tournament play-off.
From the play-off, 16 nations would then move on to the World Cup itself. There have also been proposals for a 40-team competition with eight groups of five teams, or 10 groups of four.
A final decision will be taken at a FIFA Council meeting on January 9 and 10.
“This was all about explaining things, clearing up any misunderstandings. I think we managed to do that,” Infantino told reporters after meeting some 20 federation representatives. “The consensus of the federations here is that everybody wants an extension (to the World Cup).
Then there are those who are more favourable to 40 teams and others 48. The question was raised: what’s the distribution, the guarantee of having teams from the continents taking part in the finals?”
Infantino will hold similar talks in Singapore, Miami, Doha, Addis Abeba and London between December 6 and March 9, 2017.
A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.