FIFA President Gianni Infantino has said that the proposals for a 32, 40 or 48-team World Cup in 2026 were still on the table and that a larger tournament would not mean a drop in quality. Infantino also said that the FIFA is trying to streamline ticketing prices with its sponsors for the 2022 WC.
Despite criticism flying from all directions for his proposed World Cup model consisting of more than 32 countries, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has stood by his idea, saying that the decision over a revised format will be taken on January. The proposed format also had the World Cup starting with a playoff round featuring 32 teams in which the 16 losers would go straight home after a single game.
"There is a positive feeling around the council but the details are still to be elaborated, whether it's 40 teams, eight groups of five or 10 groups of four, or 48 teams with a playoff at the start. This is still very much a work in progress," Infantino told Reuters on Thursday.
Infantino said that the quality of the tournament, which was expanded to include 32 countries in 1998, would not be affected by having more teams.
"I don't agree with diluting the quality. I would like to remind everyone that in the last World Cup, Italy and England were eliminated by Costa Rica," he said.
This model was criticized by many as teams that would be spending weeks preparing for the tournament and then would have traveled around the world just for a single game in case they lost. But, Infantino supported his idea by saying, "Already today, you have playoffs where teams travel from one part of the world to the next and they play home and away in four days," adding that the playoff would be a "final" for the teams involved.
"It's certainly an exciting moment for the country and the fans... Look at England, where one of the most followed matches is the promotion playoff (from the second tier Championship)."
Infantino also said that FIFA plans to take more control over ticketing and
"It has nothing to do with trust, it is just to do with efficiency," he said. "It's simply about being professional."
He reiterated his promise, made when he was elected in February, that each of FIFA's 211 member associations would receive $1.25 million per year to invest in development.
Another aim was "to increase total participation in football -- players, coaches,