An expanded FIFA World Cup: a promise made by Giovanni Infantino when he confirmed his candidacy for the position of the FIFA president on 26th October 2015. On 26 February 2016, he was elected FIFA president for a tenure of 3 years. As Giovanni Infantino was elected president, a big and bold new came along with him. An idea which has become quite controversial.
Initially the idea was for a 40 team World cup but then he expanded the plan to a 48 team World cup, and it was approved by a FIFA Council. Since then, critics have come out slamming FIFA as a money grabbing authority (not that I would say these claims are false), and jokes have been made of the World cup having games such as Fiji vs New Zealand or teams such as Papua New Guinea qualifying.
But wait, if you are taking your mind in the same direction or have already taken your mind towards thinking of games or teams such as that then stop right there. Because a 48 team World cup is not that bad an idea. And there definitely wouldn’t be games such as that. Instead, it will make the tournament more interesting.
Here are only a few plus points of the 48 team World Cup.
1. The development factor. A 48 team World Cup will obviously make a lot more revenue than the current 32 team World cup. As smaller teams will participate in the tournament (not as small as New Zealand or Fiji), they will get huge amounts of money which those nations can utilize in building a strong footballing infrastructure in their respective countries, which will not even make the leagues of those countries better but in the long term would also make them better footballing nations financially. (After all, Football Manager’s prediction of Algeria lifting the 2054 world may not be that delusional as it seems to be).
2. Much more emotion and drama. A 48 team World Cup will bring 80 matches rather than the 64 matches currently played in a World Cup. That means that there will be lots more emotion and drama and thrill, something all football fans enjoy and some fans just don’t want these tourna-ments to be over. And by the way, I am still watching montages of Euro 2016 as I miss it dear-ly. Talking about the fixture pile up, if you can support your club in about 45 to 50 matches eve-ry season, then why not 16 more matches in the World Cup (and you don’t even have to watch every single one.)
3. Some fantastic teams. Now this the real delusional part as some people have gone down the completely wrong way of thinking. There won’t be a Fiji or such teams in the World Cup. In fact, teams like Algeria, South Korea, Egypt, Paraguay, Senegal, Denmark, Sweden and many more would get to embrace the biggest and the greatest footballing carnival : the World Cup. They would bring along with themselves a never say die spirit, entertaining football, passion and most certainly some very enthusiastic and passionate fans. It would give teams like Wales and Slovakia a chance to feature at the World Cup more often. And come on, who doesn’t love the Icelanders or that epic clap of theirs, which very soon may feature at a World Cup.
4. The crown will be harder to earn. Currently one team out of 32 lifts the World Cup, the biggest trophy of them all in terms of its importance. The team that wins it gets the tag of the world’s best footballing side. Now add to that 16 more teams from 2026 and one really has to be up for it every single game to go on and lift the World Cup, to be crowned world champions. So from 2026, the World Cup will have to be earned by playing the best football every single minute of the tournament. And with penalty shootouts being introduced, teams won’t just park the bus in the group stages. So, beware Portugal, you better change your tactics by 2026.
5. More talents will be unearthed. Big news Arsenal fans, you might be getting some good cheap talent from the 2026 World Cup, or maybe not as your club might still try and lowball. But, ei-ther way, it’s got nothing to do with the World Cup. In fact, the points is that as teams like Sen-egal, Wales, Egypt,Sweden and others would get a chance to feature in the tournament, so would their top talents. And you know there is some good talent in those countries. Players would get a chance to prove themselves at a big stage which will draw the attention of many clubs and which will unearth some hidden gems. As mostly a good qualifying campaign is not enough to prove yourself, the World Cup will really separate the best from the rest.
So, those are only a few plus points of a 48 team World Cup. There are some others but I wouldn’t go on about them as they are minor and also because I want to save your time. Whether you are working in your office, or whether you are about to go out play with your friends or whether you are off to bed, enjoy it. But, don’t forget that the 2026 World cup is not a bad idea at all and that it might just be the start of a new era in international football.