FIFA unanimously approves World Cup expansion to 48 teams
FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams starting at the 2026 tournament, soccer's world governing body announced Tuesday following a unanimous vote by the FIFA Council.
The World Cup will add 16 nations and the format will include 16 three-team groups with the top two in each advancing to a round of 32. The change is the first to the tournament since 1998, when the World Cup expanded to 32 teams.
FIFA says the new format is constructed in a way that the rest days for players won't be compromised, with a maximum of seven matches for teams that reach the final game.
FIFA forecasts a raise in extra income because of the expansion, which will allow for 80 matches instead of 64. That monetary figure is said to be worth $1 billion in extra income after broadcasting, ticket sales and sponsor deals are tallied up.
The breakdown of additional teams by region has not yet been announced.
UEFA, the Union of European Football, wants 16 of its teams to enter the tournament. The 2026 World Cup site has not been decided as that process is expected to be completed in May 2020.
The 2018 tournament will be held in Russia and the 2022 World Cup is set to take place in Qatar.
- Scooby Axson