Top Stories

Monday Kickoff: Platini wants World Cup expansion; Totti ruled out one month; and more

MichelPlatiniUEFA1 (Getty)


If Michel Platini has his way, there could be expansion in the future of the FIFA World Cup.

The UEFA president, in an interview with The Times of London, stated that he believes the World Cup should expand from the current 32 nations to 40, and that it would only add three days to the already 31-day-long quadrennial tournament. Platini’s comments follow on the back of FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s comments last week, in which he called for a reduction in European teams at the World Cup with more representation from Africa and Asia.

“I totally agree with Mr Blatter that we need more African and Asian [countries],” Platini told The Times. “But instead of taking away some European, we have to go to 40 teams. We can add two African, two Asiatic, two American, one Oceania and one from Europe.

“Football is changing and we now we have 209 associations. There are more countries so why reduce? You have three days more of competition and you make more people happy.”

The World Cup last expanded to it’s current 32 in 1998 and before that, the tournament expanded to 24 from 16 nations in 1982.

Here are some more stories to start your week:


AS Roma have been handed a huge blow in their quest to win Serie A this season.

Although Rudi Garcia’s side triumphed at Udinese on Sunday thanks to a Michael Bradley goal, Roma learned that their captain and star Francesco Totti will miss the next month with a hamstring injury. Originally Totti was ruled out for 7-10 days but now it looks like the club are hoping he’ll be able to return on November 25, against Cagliari.

Roma have started the season with nine straight wins, a record in Serie A for starting the season. Totti has played a huge role in the side this season despite being 37-years old, scoring three goals and six assists in the team’s first eight games.


The German sporting court has ruled that Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-1 win vs. Hoffenheim on October 18 won’t be replayed, despite Leverkusen’s Stefan Kießling having a goal allowed even though it went through the side netting. (REPORT)

Atletico Madrid midfielder Óliver Torres needed just 13 seconds to score Atleti’s opener on Sunday, setting the record for the fastest goal in club history. (REPORT)

Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry has signed a “long-term contract” with the club. (REPORT)

Sporting Lisbon’s brilliant start to the season was put to an end by FC Porto with a 3-1 scoreline. (REPORT)

West Ham United winger Ricardo Vaz Te has suffered a dislocated shoulder and will miss the next two months. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you see the World Cup expanding? How much of a loss is Totti for Roma? Do you feel that the “Phantom Goal” game should be replayed?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I have to admit, I’m not against 40 teams. The World Cup has ‘never’ been about ‘The best teams in the world.’ Or it wouldn’t be admitting teams from every region. It’s as much a festival of the global nature of the sport as it is a Championship. Did South Africa “need’ North Korea?

    Is it a better advertisement of the game to give away 2nd tier UEFA spots to let in more of Africa (which does deserve another place) and Asia? (Which I can’t believe deserves another if we’re talking merits.)

    I can’t buy that. It ‘is’ a better advertisement to expand the tournament. Especially since it’s only 3 more days, 1 more round of games. And would open the door for regions that aren’t given full slots now. I don’t agree about giving CONMEBOL another team, since they already qualify half their teams.And I’d find it somewhat amusing that the Socceroos, who left Oceania because it didn’t get a fair shake in qualifying, would now have to watch the Kiwis dance through to an automatic berth. Of course, they don’t have too much trouble in Asia, and they get more money this way.

    In the end, I don’t see what downside there is to allowing 1 in 4 Federations to qualify for the World Cup. In an era when you have sporting leagues playing 80 games to eliminate less than half, a mild opening of the ranks doesn’t harm the integrity of the competition, and does allow a bit more of the spectacle and stories of the smaller nations.

    And somehow, I don’t think it would end the Group of Death.

  2. The WC is fine as it is, leave it be. This guy applied the same “inclusion” policy to the Euro and expanded it to 24 teams, thus making sure we never see exciting first rounds ever again or the big team fans never go through the shame of being kicked out in the group stage. Eff Platini

  3. It depends if you’re for the World Cup being a difficult to get into, prestigious event, or something that any decent football nation can expect to participate in. Personally, I think there are some worthy African teams that get left behind, at the moment, Asia and North America have not deserved more spots- in fact, I’d be more than willing to give away one spot from CONCACAF right now, as the playoff situation between Mexico and Panama truly shames the region- both sides showed they don’t deserve it in the end. In short, 32 already allows some less than stellar teams in, and expansion would hurt the competition over all.

    Of course, that’s me. I can understand someone wanting more countries simply for the sake of inclusion.

    • The African teams that get left out is usually because of the system they use more then a lack of spots. Only one African team made it from the group 4 years ago and half the teams finished at the bottom of there table.

    • If your the 13th best team in your league should you get a chance to play for a championship? Id bet most years the teams that lose in the african playoffs would hold their own against the teams that win the uefa playoffs

    • Can’t. There are 8 groups…which is a necessity, since that gives you 16 teams that then advance to the knockout stages.

      You can expand to 40…and still keep the necessary 8 groups. Just means you have five teams in each group instead of four, and the top two still advance.

      36 doesn’t work.

  4. Expanding the Finals just to add geographic diversity is a pretty short-sighted idea. The World Cup is not the Olympics – the finals represent the culmination of a three-year qualification process that very thoroughly sorts out the worthy from the unworthy. Most purists who favor a true “best 32” system are already upset, and probably rightly so, that quality nations from Europe and South America (former more so than the latter – I think 5 South American sides is a fair amount) are left out to include the Honduras and Iran’s of the world. I believe the current system is a fair compromise that has space for the majority of the top nations as well as weaker/smaller sides that represent global soccer.

    The mistake in adding more teams based on geography is simply that you are diluting the quality of the Finals. I know Fifa believes that adding games = instant revenue spike, but they fail to realize that by simply creating lesser quality games (like if Panama and Jordan play to a 0-0 draw or having Argentina crush Burkina Faso 6-0), you are weakening the watch-ability of the whole tournament and damaging your long-term ratings prospects. I think the NFL, which currently reigns supreme on attendance/ratings, will face similar problems down the road.

    I have yet to see a sound argument for the inclusion of more non-European nations other than that it will keep the fans in those particular nations happy. International football has already fallen far behind several UEFA competitions in terms of quality of play. Reducing quality even farther simply to make it seem more like an Olympic spectacle for “developing” football nations is just going to lower interest in the markets that actually make this thing tick.

    • Actually, I think the bigger problem would be in diluting the challenge — and the excitement of the qualifying tournaments. If the idea is to expand the tournament to allow pretty much all the good/worthy teams to go through, there would be little suspense in the qualifying.

      No doubt, it sucks that a good team or two isn’t going to make it — I feel bad for Panama, and I sure wish both Ronaldo and Ibra could be in the tournament. I would suggest expanding the play-in round to bring in Euro and African teams.

      • I wouldn’t be opposed to more European or African slots, but I don’t think you can feel bad for teams like Panama or the Asian teams that miss out in the sense that they deserved to be there from a quality standpoint. Panama won a single match in the final round of one of the weaker confederations, how could they be justifiably included?

    • I hear why you are saying but I’m not sure I completely buy the argument. The early rounds will showcase less quality without a doubt but I think college basketball has shown that a large tourney looses in quality it makes up in upsets and Cinderellas. Regardless once you reach the later rounds the quality picks back up to its normal level simply because the same elite teams tend make it that far.

      Not saying I agree with the expansion just not sure dilution is that big of a deal.

  5. Asia and Africa do not need more teams.

    Japan, South Korea, Australia, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, and potentially South Africa/Egypt are the only countries that would not dilute the talent pool. Adding more would come at the expense of countries like Portugal and Croatia. Horrible.

    • Wrong Burkina Faso, Zambia, Guinea, Oman, UAE, Uzbekistan all have up and coming teams that could hang with Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, etc

  6. i would be in favor of a 40 team WC. 5 team groups might be a bit more complicated scheduling but it would certainly allow more nations to participate w/o playoffs;

    two African –> hopefully redo their qualification system but could allow; Egypt & Senegal
    two Asiatic (Asian?) –> Uzbeckistan & Jordan
    two American –> Panama and Uruguay
    one Oceania –> New Zealand
    one from Europe –> Portugal

    • Why you would favor adding eight spots but only one for Europe? The world cup really needs Jordan and Uzbekistan? Panama and New Zealand?

      • those are just the amounts that Platini is suggesting.. personally i think that UEFA and CAF deserves a spot or two and everyone wants AFC to earn a few more spots but truth is that football is not very strong in the most populous region in the world.. i guess i will change my vote as in favor of this the day that China, India, Indonesia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, etc can compete with the current big three (korea, japan, aussies) in Asia.

      • That day is coming soon. UAE and China have some decent yougn talent that big European clubs are trying to bring over. Throw in the fact Qatar is pouring money into its development and I think in 2018 one of Japan, SK, or Aussie misses the world cup.

  7. I don’t see how adding eight teams eliminates the group of death frequency/intensity Luke some are suggesting. It would also make it more difficult for a small nation to get through the group stage and into the knockouts.
    They’d surely have 8 groups of five with the top two going through rather than 10 groups off four with the winner and six best second page tasks go through.
    That situation favors the consistently good nations even more and makes it less impactful when a Minnie does get a result against a giant…with one more game fir each team it’s more opportunity for the group standings to land how you’d expect.
    Having said that…seem inevitable, necessary, and good. Maybe in 2026 in the USA the first expanded tournament…

    • ya, i don’t see Qatar hosting any more than the minimum amount of games.. how many stadiums can you fit in a country the size of CT?

      this would be a great format to roll out for a WC in the USA. i believe there would 96 games; 16 stadiums 6 games each?

    • With so many teams I could see them going with a two group phase format similar to what they did in 1978, and then going into single elimination in the quarterfinals and eliminate the round of 16 games.

  8. Considering the risk of multiple groups of death on the the horizon this year, it seems like platini’s expansion is an idea whose time has come. On the downside, what will the economic affect be with another 3-day drop in worldwide productivity!! We could all starve!! Will host nations have to find a another couple-hundred-million dollars to build another stadium to handle the wear of another group?

    • Why are groups of death a risk? Shouldn’t every group be a “group of death’? Non-group of death should be reserved for qualifiers. So-called groups of death used to be the norm, not an exception.

    • So we need to expand the world cup so that we have more non-competitive teams and therefore easier groups for the good teams? Huh?

  9. Does anyone think that the world cup next year would be better with the likes of Jordan, Uzbekistan, Panama, New Zealand there?

    • That’s not the point. The worry is that if everybody is in a group of death, it won’t be as thrilling unless you’re from Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany. The non-seeded Euro teams that could do be distributed when the final draw occurs include Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia, England, France, Portugal, & Croatia. And they would be the non-seeded teams. During any given WC year, we would expect half of those teams to be seeded. I don’t want to lose the Euro teams, so lets add another group and spread them out a little more so we don’t get a Spain/Germany, USA, Ivory Coast, Netherlands group in the group draw.

      • A lot of people would say it’s up to those teams to earn their seeds prior to the finals.

        I actually think difficult groups benefit the tournament. People are going to watch the knockout rounds no matter what. It’s the group matches that don’t always get as many viewers. More competitive groups keep casual fans interested in the opening round of the tournament.

      • Or you could simply seed teams based on performance rather than geography. That would avoid “groups of death” without watering down the competition.

  10. So, forty teams. To give you a sense of what that means, Panama would have probably made it htis year. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I leave to others.

  11. Bradley, your window is opened. Even if doesn’t come straight in as a starter this will significantly up his minutes.
    PS- A big TOLD YOU SO to those who thought he wouldn’t get any minutes.

    • honestly, i haven’t seen many (any?) people saying that bradley wouldn’t “get any minutes”.

      i’ve been one of the many who said that he wouldn’t be displacing any of the 3 starting mids any time soon, except for purely rotational reasons. i stand by that, although this goal certainly helps his case.


Leave a Comment