The Council of the International Football Federation (FIFA) has approved the proposal to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cups from 32 to 48.
The idea presented by the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, was unanimously endorsed in the vote in Zurich.
International football has always been Eurocentric and heavily weighted not only to European countries but also the self-serving interests of the professional franchises who have drained Latin America and Africa dry in their search for talent. For its part, the United Kingdom participates in FIFA competitions with four teams – from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The tournament will have a structure of 16 groups of three teams each, of which two will advance to the round of sixteen, format of competition that will come into effect from 2026.
The news did not escape to criticism like the ones issued by the president of the European Federation of Clubs, the German Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the holder of the Spanish League, Javier Tebas, and the coach of the Italian group Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri.
Rummenigge, also head of the German club Bayern Munich, commented that ‘it is a decision that was taken for political rather than sporting reasons, and it is regrettable,’ referring to Infantino’s strategy of keeping his electorate happy.
He also questioned the urgency of enlargement, ‘When there are nine years before applying a new format, without involving all parties (including clubs) on which there will be an impact with this change.’
‘We will analyze the impacts in detail and discuss this issue at our next board meeting at the end of January,’ he said.
For its part, Thebes assured the French publication L’Equipe that, ‘the method used is not acceptable’, since the decision was made without consulting the negative consequences that would cause the clubs.
He also criticized the attitude of Infantino, who ‘behaves like (Joseph) Blatter – his predecessor in office – who made decisions alone, without worrying about anyone.
Meanwhile, Allegri said that ’48 teams is a lot. Let us see how this format will be installed. Football changes. Decision makers are looking to increase profits. Now, football is spectacle and business.
With a file from Prensa Latina