World Cup to be expanded to 48 teams

January 10, 2017 5:19 PM

Fifa has decided the World Cup will be expanded to host 48 teams, up from 32.

An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament.

The sport’s world governing body voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich today.

The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games.

The tournament will be completed within 32 days – a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule.

The changes mark the first World Cup expansion since 1998. Fifa president Gianni Infantino has been behind the move, saying the World Cup has to be “more inclusive”.