On Monday, for better or worse, FIFA made official plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams beginning in 2026.
While the details of the expansion have not yet been released, the sport’s governing body did announce that the format would shift to 16 groups of three teams, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the 32-team knockout stage.
While good news for FIFA’s bottom line, teams in smaller confederations such as Oceania, and prominent sticker book maker Panini, the move is not without its detractors. Many claim that a 48-team field will be too diluted, with teams qualifying that do not belong on the world’s biggest stage. Some go as far as to say 32 teams are already diluted enough. Others bemoaned the 3-team group configurations, rumored to include no draws with all matches decided by penalties if necessary, as riddled with multiple problems, including an increased chance of the dreaded biscotto.
Additionally, several leagues and federations have voiced their opposition to the expansion. The president of the German federation voiced his great displeasure to the new format, and La Liga is reportedly threatening legal action against FIFA.
Still, teams such as New Zealand, likely to benefit greatly from Oceania’s expected acquisition of a full qualifying slot, have much to celebrate, as do FIFA’s executives. FIFA’s own calculations have estimated an increase of over $500 billion in profits from an expanded tournament, and smaller confederations could see their revenues skyrocket with increased qualification as well. This could potentially prompt a massive growth of the game at all levels, especially in developing countries.
With all of this in mind, was the decision to expand to 48 teams correct? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Or does the bigger pool dilute the quality of the tournament?
Have your say in the poll below, and state your reasoning in the comment section.