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.
Dhoni's phones recovered, firefighter took them 'by mistake'
Former Indian skipper M S Dhoni's three mobile phones that allegedly went missing during a fire scare at a five star hotel were today recovered from a firefighter. A senior police official said a Delhi Fire Services personnel had "inadvertently" taken away the mobile phones and he did not know whom they belonged to.
- Gauchan, Regmi, Kami rested for Emerging Nations Cup
Clinical Nepal keeps WC qualifiers hopes alive
Nepal put up a clinical display to thump Kenya by seven wickets at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground on Monday to keep hopes of qualifying for the ODI World Cup qualifiers to be held next year alive. The bowlers led by Mahboob Alam and Sharad Vesawkar bowled Kenya out for a paltry score of 155 runs before skipper Gyanendra Malla and 17-year-old Dipendra Singh Airee smashed Kenyan bowlers to romp to victory with 118 balls remaining.
- Kenya dashes Nepal's chances for WC qualifiers
Alam selected for Kenya matches, Paras to start training Monday
Veteran all-rounder Mehboob Alam has been selected for the upcoming ICC World Cricket League matches against Kenya to be held in Kathmandu on March 11 and 13. Paras Khadka, who will resume training from Monday following appendicitis surgery, will captain the team while Gyanendra Malla will be his deputy.
We take pride in Sagarmatha and also Bhagwan Buddha. We should introspect as to what has been “our” contribution in the making of both. The tallest mountain landmark is the outcome of tectonic push against the bigger landmass creating the upward drift that created the Himalaya. Prince Siddhartha, on the other hand, was born 2556 years ago or 23 centuries before Nepal got unified under Prithivi Narayan Shah. Siddhartha is believed to have attained enlightenment at the age of 35 or around six years after leaving Kapilvastu.
All this pointed that the election will be held with public support despite efforts by those against it. But all that changed after three people were killed in Rajbiraj after the police opened fire on Madhesi Front cadres who were ‘hurling petrol bombs’ toward the venue where UML Chairman KP Oli had just finished his short address.
Men at work
Currently the larger part of our urban area resembles a war zone with bulldozers and mechanical diggers running amok. What is left behind the unfinished work typically consists of mangled water pipes, jumbled up and torn telephone and electric wires, mounds of dug earth and gravel heaps, unfilled ditches and incomplete manholes.
A great aviator in the Nepali skies
Deepak was not only a competent pilot but also someone who had the inner strength to always remain cool, calm, and collected. That nature helped him make a total of three emergency landings in his career as a pilot when he suddenly had to deal with technical malfunctions while flying an aircraft.
Traffic Police in Kathmandu
As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.
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.