SBI Question of the Day

SBI Question of the Day: What do you think of the decision to expand the World Cup?


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.

  • Adam M.

    The expansion makes the World Cup more like the NCAA tournament. Exciting opportunities for lower-ranked teams to rise above their station and take on traditional powers, but not necessarily intended to identify the best team. Personally, I think the World Cup had enough drama built in already, and expanding opportunities for draws and penalties to be decisive is not a good development for game that hasn’t solved those problems under its current format.


    • Dave

      Unfortunately it eliminates the fun part of the NCAA tourney by not making the intro stages one and done. The powers face no real chance of an upset in the early stages, because the minnows need two wins


      • yahoooew!

        Sorry, but the minnows will park the bus and hope for penalties. Leading to the most unattractive soccer on the highest stage.


  • jb

    Another blatant money grab for FIFA, it is what it is. As a fan, my biggest problem with it is that it renders the two years of World Cup Qualifying completely meaningless for the top 30 international teams, including the USMNT. For example, the USA-Mexico WCQ in Columbus will never have the same intensity and importance that it now has. A real shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • UclaBruinGreat

      I disagree with you. The Mexico vs USA wcq games have always been about the rivalry and bragging rights. In recent history Mexico and USA always qualify for the WC regardless of the results of those games. So things will remain status quo. Those games will still have have the same meaning.


      • jb

        I hope you’re right Ucla. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but what I’m envisioning is at least 1-2 extra spots for concacaf which makes the qualifying for the US and Mexico go from easy to an absolute cakewalk. Which then means, using the US-Mexico example, maybe Mexico doesn’t even bring their A team to Columbus for that match. Maybe half of our qualifiers we are playing our B or C team, or the U23s. It seems likely to dilute the product in so many ways.


    • lemmiwinkss

      For what it’s worth, most recent projections have CONCACAF getting 6.5 bids thus making the whole Hexagonal worthless. I can’t stand this setup.


    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

      Is this the same Rob that watches MLS and then whines about it non-stop?
      If so. Unbelievable comment.

      Unlike your MLS hatred, I don’t think it is that black and white. I will like WCup still, but not nearly as much as old format. for what, for $$$ that’s what.


  • Clover362

    The reason I hate it is it means less group stage games which are actually the best part of the tournament.


    • alabamafutbol

      Agreed, group stage is where the thrill lies, half the fun for me is toying with all the scenarios and possibilities for advancement, etc. Not to mention now “getting out of the group” no longer equals a successful World Cup for the USMNT. Hate all of this


  • justin801

    I would love if they did 36 teams, adding one more group. They have already said it would basically add one more day to the total time. It would bring in a couple 3rd place teams. It would also bring in the fringe countries and it would not change the system drastically.


  • jus sayin'

    $ trumps all with FIFA. It is a bottom line “organization” where profit ALWAYS takes precedent over the good of the game or a tournament or… ethics. So… whatever… this was very predictable and the issue pales in importance compared to what ails the organization. There’s good and bad in this… competitively and… while adding opportunity for smaller nations to play, it does make it an even more difficult task for them to host. Frankly, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing at all. FIFA “urban renewal” projects bring out the VERY worst aspects about the WC.


  • TheFrenchOne

    I’d be interested to see someone run some models to see who the likely countries to benefit from this, such as NZ. At the end of the day, it’ll most likely be those countries that have participated here and there over the years. It’s not like all of the sudden Tahiti is going to the WC. So I don’t know how much this helps to grow the game in the smaller footballing countries.


    • Quit Whining About Soccer in the US

      The countries?

      How about just the ones that benefit, for me, it ain’t us benefitting, most games will be boring and meaningless for the first round and back to qualifying.


      • Rob

        “most games will be boring and meaningless for the first round and back to qualifying”
        Kind of like mls’ regular season games.


  • Kodi

    I didn’t enjoy the group games as much in this recent Euro because teams were playing for draws in many instances and made for less exciting matches. As long as this can be avoided I’m ok. Would the general distribution of slots for each region remain the same? Looking at the last round of WC qualifying, we would have maybe added teams like Sweden, Ukraine, Romania, Iceland, Venezuela, Peru, Panama, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. As long the New zealands and Jordans of the world are kept to a minimum.


  • KenC

    Obviously a money grab and a vote grab. The problem is it dilutes the quality of the tourney and it reduces the number of countries that can actually host the event, leading to more joint co-bids. Bigger is not always better.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Tut

    Does it dilute it? Not so sure. I mean, if those minnows have no chance they will be 3 and out. Then the tourney resumes as we know it. A money grab, yes, but one of those minnows may just upset a bigger team someday. And that is surely one of the best sort of games to watch. Unless it’s us who lose.


  • NJ Guy No Longer Stuck in DC

    The group stage will be as about as exciting as watching women’s world cup in the 1990s. It’ll start looking like college football too – empty stadia an marquee players will mysteriously have groin pulls or niggling ankle sprains so that they are not injured in a 5-0 or 7-0 game with 75/25 possession. Pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Freegle

    Simple plan…

    1) Expand the tournament for 2026
    2) Award the 2026 tournament to USA (or US/Mex joint) as the only country that could actually house 40 teams worth of venues, practice facilities, infrastructure, etc
    4) Claim logistics were to difficult and bring the teams back down to 32 after that.
    5) Count your billions

    Typical FIFA.


  • Joamiq

    Three games is enough to feel like you had a meaningful World Cup, even if it’s over then. To fight through qualifying just for two games? This is awful.


  • BAJ

    Honestly, as the world gets smaller there will be more teams that will legitimately compete. Some that are considered minnows now will be at a much higher level come 2026. Also I would imagine that we see some federations start to invest alot more into their programs.


  • Chicago Josh

    If they are going to dilute the quality, then change the format to the NCAA tournament: win or go home.


  • lando

    For my money, the final day of the 4 team groups at the WC, with matches going on simulataniously, is the most exciting of the tournament (unless the US is playing). 2002, US v Pol and Por v SK was riduculously sad and euphoric. I dig how a number of group stages end on the final day.


  • Beto

    Call it a money grab, but giving a sliver of hope to Nations that previously had very little chance of ever participating in the World Cup – and now possibily the KO rounds too – should make for some interesting games. Sure China, Jamaica, Venezuela and Ethiopia have no rightful claims to in the WC but I don’t think it damages the integrity of the event if more of the world participates.

    From a USMNT perspective. WCQ will be 100% for pride and even the WC group stage games will soon be “warm up” games. Combining concacaf-south american qualifying might be the only way to provide meaningful matches outside of the WC KO games, Copa America and Gold Cup Finals.


  • johnnyrazor

    Every sport today is about the money quit kidding yourselves. From the NFL to the NCAA to the Olympics everyone is trying to make the most money possible on it. Why should FIFA be any different?

    Second, I would like 12 groups of 4. Having to win your group or be in the top third of 2nd place finishers to advance would force teams to play for wins instead of ties.


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