Infantino, European Clubs Disagree Over World Cup Expansion

By Ikenga Chronicles December 16, 2016

The intention of FIFA President Gianni Infantino to expand the World Cup  from its current 32 teams to 48 might not see the light of the day as European clubs disagree. It would be recalled that Infantino  said he wants to increase the number of participants at the quadrennial tournament from 2026 and the FIFA Council is expected to reach a decision at its next meeting in January.

In their reaction, European Club Association (ECA), said  “The number of games being played throughout the year has already reached an unacceptable level, in particular for national team players,’’

“The ECA Executive Board therefore rejects such initiative and has today sent a letter to Gianni Infantino calling on FIFA not to increase the number of participants at future World Cups.’’

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: “We have to focus on the sport again. Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football.”

“In the interest of the fans and the players, we urge FIFA not to increase the number of World Cup participants’’.

The ECA represents more than 200 clubs across the continent though it is dominated by the big clubs who have greater voting rights within the organisation than their smaller counterparts.

However, the FIFA Council is expected to consider four possible formats for the World Cup when it meets in January.

The first possibility is to keep the current 32-team format with eight groups of four followed by a knockout contest.

A second option will be for a 40-team tournament with either eight groups of five or 10 groups of four.

The third choice is for a 48-team tournament consisting of a preliminary round of 16 knockout ties with the winners joining 16 more teams in a 32-team group stage. The fourth proposal, currently favoured by Infantino, is for 48 teams divided into 16 groups of three.

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