FIFA approved that the World Cup will be expanded to host 48 teams. FIFA Council has voted unanimously at a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday to expand the World Cup to a 48-team tournament in 2026.
An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 FIFA World Cup tournament.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino had laid out plans for such an expansion as part of his campaign for the top job at world football’s governing body last year. The 37 Council members were asked to select their favourite from five proposals: two involving a 48-team set-up, two 40-team tournaments, and the current 32-team format.
The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games. The tournament will be completed within 32 days – a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule. The changes mark the first World Cup expansion since 1998.