The World cup tournament has now been expanded to 48 football teams from the current 32 effective 2026 after FIFA Council unanimously voted to expand the tournament in a decision that was agreed on on Tuesday.
The 32-team format was established in 1998 and which will come to an end after the next two world cup tournament in Russia and Qatar.
The expansion comes as a fulfillment of Gianni Infantino’s, the President of FIFA, promise that if elected he would expand the tournament to include more countries in the championship as well as providing huge funding for national federations. Infantino replaced Sepp Blatter, the long serving FIFA President who came down marred with a corruption scandal.
According to the research done by FIFA before reaching the decision to expand the tournament, a rise of 20 percent in revenue is expected to up to 6.5 billion US Dollars. In 2018 World Cup that will be held in Russia, FIFA expects to make up to 5.5 billion US Dollars with up to 6.5 billion US Dollars in Qatar.
Uncertainties, however, remain on the possible confusion that likely to be experienced with the additional 16 teams especially on the timeline as well as the criteria that would be used to select them. Already there is fight over the 16 positions that are likely to be shared between six confederations. Africa and Asia which has always been underrepresented at the world cup is likely to benefit from these extra slots.
To evade the looming confusion, FIFA plans to create a total of 16 groups with three teams each. According to FIFA, the top two in each group will earn a ticket to a 32-team knockout season. The extra 16 slots will also increase the number of games from the current 64 to 80 to be played in 32 days.