Fifa announced on Tuesday in Zurich, Switzerland that it will be making an immense change to the most watched sporting event in the world.
Starting in 2026 the World Cup will include 48 teams instead of 32. The group stage of the tournament will see 16 groups consisting of 3 teams each. In the following knockout stage 32 teams will battle it out in hopes of getting one step closer to being crowned world champions.
Fans will get more football as the number of matches will jump from 64 to 80, but the eventual winners of the contest will still only be playing seven matches.
In an attempt to appeal to many strong European clubs Fifa decided the tournament will be completed within 32 days. Many of these clubs had already objected making such a change to the tournament because of an already busy international schedule.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino commented why he believes this is the right move stating that the tournament needs to be “more inclusive.”
“The football fever you have in a country that qualifies for the World Cup is the biggest promotional tool for football you can have,” said Infantino at a news conference shortly after the decision was made. “The football promotion, in many parts of the world where today they have no chance to play (in the tournament) was at the top of our thoughts.”
There has been no decision yet on who will receive those extra qualification spots but Infantino expressed that it will be decided quickly.
Fifa have stated that the income from the 48-team tournament is predicted to rise to around £5.29bn meaning the potential profit rise would be somewhere around £521m.
Infantino declared this was not a money making decision, but a football decision instead.
This is the first expansion to the tournament since 1998.
“We are in the 21st century and we have to shape the World Cup of the 21st century,” said Infantino.