Infantino’s promise may improve or destroy football…Will the World Cup 2026 succeed with 48 teams?

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The 2022 World Cup, which will be held in the State of Qatar, will be the last to witness the participation of 32 teams. Starting from the next edition, 48 countries will participate, which will significantly change the nature of the historic tournament that began in 1930.

Qatar’s historic version is approaching the end point with reaching the semi-finals, and next Sunday the three countries that will organize the tournament in 2026 (Canada, the United States and Mexico) will receive the banner of hosting the next edition, to begin the countdown to a tournament that will never be like the previous versions.

Is the World Cup successful with 48 teams?

Writer Matt Slater believes, in his report published by ” The Athletic ” that the President of the International Football Association “FIFA”; The Swiss, Gianni Infantino, made many successive proposals, which may be a reason to improve or destroy football, starting with playing the World Cup every two years, establishing the World Nations League, and transforming the Club World Cup through 32 teams.

The writer explained that Infantino’s supporters believe that he does not stand still and that he is brave; because he is trying to renew the game; While his critics and opponents are waiting, hoping that one of his ideas will fail; Foremost among them is the idea of ​​expanding the number of teams joining the World Cup from 32 to 48, an idea that represents one of two great promises that Infantino made to himself when he ran for the presidency of FIFA.

Gianni Infantino came up with the idea of ​​48 teams participating in the 2026 World Cup

The writer asked about the problem in the proposed 48-election model, and what are its solutions? Will FIFA implement these solutions or not? He said, before answering these questions, a more important question must be answered: Why does FIFA not leave things as they are?

The writer says that the current system of the World Cup is best suited to the Europeans, who have made great achievements in this tournament over the years. However, FIFA does not only include European football associations; Rather, it includes 211 federations that depend mainly on the development grants provided by the federation, and because FIFA derives more than 90% of its income from the men’s FIFA World Cup.

He mentioned that Infantino said – in a speech to the FIFA Congress – that the World Cup that is being held in Qatar has achieved $7.5 billion for FIFA, an increase of $1 billion over what it achieved in the World Cup “Russia 2018”, which made everyone applaud for him, knowing that FIFA members They are equal, as the vote of the San Marino Federation, ranked 211, is equal to the vote of Brazil, ranked first in the world.

10 billion profits from the World Cup 2026

The writer continued, saying, “When Infantino told the football federations that the next World Cup in Canada, Mexico and America – which will be held in 2026 – is expected to achieve 10 billion, some of them jumped for joy, because this money – as Infantino always says – is mainly the money of those federations.”

The writer indicated that the participation of 48 teams in the World Cup means that there will be more matches, more tickets and more merchandise, and that there will be an opportunity for 16 other countries to reach the World Cup with all the commercial and sporting benefits that this offers them, despite Infantino’s assertion. That money is not the only reason, but his desire to spread “World Cup fever”, allow more fans and players to experience the joys of the tournament, and take its healing power to all corners of the world.

The writer asks again: “What is the real planning for the 2026 tournament?”, Noting that the idea of ​​increasing the number of teams participating in the World Cup was the idea of ​​former European Union President – and President of Infantino at the time – Michel Platini, who proposed increasing the number of teams from 32 to 40; But when Infantino came, the proposal increased to be 48, satisfying the teams of Africa and Asia.

The writer explained the choices that were given to the FIFA Council to choose from, which included:

– 48 teams: They are divided into 16 groups, each one includes 3 teams, from which the first and the second rise, with 80 matches for the entire tournament in 32 days.

48 teams: 16 of them are nominated to the group stage directly, while the rest of the teams play a play-off round for 16 other teams to nominate, and the tournament is completed in its current form. Through 80 matches in 39 days.

– 40 teams: divided into 10 groups of 4 teams per group, from which the first ones will rise, in addition to the 6 teams that took the runner-up; Where you will play 76 matches over 32 days.

– 40 teams: divided into 8 groups of 5 teams per group, and the first and second candidates for the knockout rounds; Where you will play 88 matches over 39 days

32 teams: that is, the World Cup remains as it is.

He pointed out that the formula of 16 groups with 3 teams for each group; She gave Infantino the number of additional matches and teams he wanted; Where the knockout stage will be from the round of 32, in addition to the teams that will reach the semi-finals, they will play only 7 matches, which means that the clubs will not complain about the large number of matches, and the accompanying fatigue for the players.

Greater chance of a repeat of the Gijon scandal

The writer talked about that there were a few grumblings that occurred, especially from Europeans, about this formula; He pointed out that everyone did not pay attention to the biggest problem in the group being 3 teams, which is the possibility of collusion between the two teams who will play the last match in order to eliminate the remaining team, which happened in 1982 between Germany and Austria, who colluded in order to exclude Algeria, which is the scandal known as The “Gijón scandal”, which was the reason FIFA decided that the last round of the group stage would be played at the same time.

The writer asked: “Why didn’t anyone discover this huge problem?” He replied that Infantino only wanted 48 teams, but how he got them was not that important, which is what characterizes FIFA’s decisions in general. In terms of making the big decision, and then starting to think about its consequences; In addition to the financial scandal that befell FIFA and its senior figures in 216 and 2017; I made the biggest goal is to get more money, but in a legitimate way.

The writer indicated that the third factor in making the decision is that the world is tired of Europe’s superior dealings in football with the rest of the federations. This meant that if there was something the European Union did not want, the other unions would support it.

The writer noted that when FIFA chose the formula of 16 groups with 3 teams for the group; He claimed to have run thousands of simulations to determine which of these five original options was the best, in terms of sporting merit and commercial impact, indicating that FIFA might be inclined to suggest an increase in the number of matches to 104.

The writer concluded his report by confirming that the next World Cup will generate a lot of money, but he wondered: “Has anyone asked the players or fans what they think? Or is the most important thing: free tickets, hospitality packages, and VIPs that will attend?”

Source : agencies


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