FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2026
President Gianni Infantino's favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved Tuesday by the FIFA Council.
It meets Infantino's election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA's 211 member federations.
FIFA projects an increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams.
FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get.
UEFA wants 16 European teams at the tournament, which is strongly favored to be played in North America. The CONCACAF region has not hosted the World Cup since the 1994 tournament in the United States.
American, Canadian and Mexican soccer leaders have had informal talks about a co-hosting bid.
Africa and Asia could be winners in a bigger World Cup with up to nine places each. They had only five and four teams, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Still, FIFA said it expects the standard of soccer to drop compared to the 32-team format locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.
The "absolute quality" of play, defined by high-ranked teams facing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA acknowledged in a research document sent to members last month. It made 10,000 tournament simulations to reach that conclusion.
Instead, Infantino wants to create fervor and months of anticipation back home in the 16 extra nations which would qualify, some probably making their World Cup debut. FIFA has pointed to Costa Rica, Wales and Iceland as examples of teams which overachieved at recent tournaments.
FIFA must break with soccer tradition to make its new format work after an original 48-team plan — with an opening playoff round sending 16 "one-and-done" teams home early — was unpopular.
Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. However, it leaves one team idle for final group games and could risk collusion between the other two teams.
FIFA said it could guard against result-rigging by introducing penalty shootouts after group games that end in draws.
Despite the 16 extra games, FIFA believes the current maximum of stadiums needed will stay at the 12 used by Brazil and Russia. However, the demand for more training bases and hotels means developed countries would be better equipped to win future hosting contests.
North America is the strong favorite for 2026 because European and Asian countries are blocked by a FIFA rule excluding continents which hosted either of the two previous tournaments. Russia will host the World Cup next year and Qatar in 2022.
South America has been focused on a centenary tournament including original 1930 host Uruguay, and African nations are seen as lacking existing capacity and unlikely to fund multi-billion dollar infrastructure spending.
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- Nepal facing Uzbekistan in AFC U23 Qualifiers tonight
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The return trip
It took us over five hours, drenched in rain, walking through treacherous ratomato sluggishly. It should not have taken more than two hours in a normal day. It was the cruellest irony that no sooner did we reach Panchkhal and sat at the Pipal Chautari to rest, than the bus we had left behind, arrived with people in the bus bursting with laughter on seeing us.
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Traffic Police in Kathmandu
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Menstrual taboo outdated
I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.