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Thursday Kickoff: Figo proposes expanded World Cup; Tigres kick off Copa Lib campaign in style; and more

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If Luis Figo has his way, the World Cup could look more like today’s iteration of the NCAA Tournament in men’s and women’s college basketball.

Figo, running for the FIFA presidency, outlined some of his campaign promises at a media event in Wembley Stadium on Thursday. His proposals included a World Cup taking place on two continents as well as increasing the funding for smaller nations.

“Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play,” Figo said, via BBC Sport. “If this expansion were to take place I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations. We not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world, but also enable FIFA to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally.”

The former Portuguese international, one of four candidates running for the FIFA presidency, proposed that the World Cup could be increased to 40 teams, or have a group stage phase with 24 teams on one continent and 24 teams on another before the knockout phase commences together on one continent.

Figo’s idea of increasing funding is to get rid of FIFA’s $1 billion plus in reserves and distribute that money through grassroots soccer programs.

Here are some more stories to start off your Thursday:


Tigres UANL continued their strong run of form at the Estadio Universitario in Nuevo Leon with a rout of Peruvian side Juan Aurich.

Joffre Guerron scored a brace and Jesus Dueñas added the third goal in spectacular fashion to give Los Felinos a perfect start to their Copa Libertadores campaign, beating Juan Aurich, 3-0.

After Nahuel Guzman made a big save early for Tigres, Guerron stepped into a loose ball at the top of the box in the 38th minute before rifling home. In the 59th minute, Guerron was played through and finished in style, leaving Juan Aurich goalkeeper Pedro Gallese in no man’s land.

Six minutes later, Dueñas found himself open from 30-yards out and with Gallese way off his line, Dueñas picked a corner and curled home a fantastic strike to put the game away to the delight of the home fans.


Fans and media weren’t the only ones who noticed a dip in Lionel Messi’s form last season.

The Argentine midfielder admitted he knew he wasn’t at his best when speaking on a program, Mundo Leo, on Wednesday evening.

“This year I tried to get off to a good start from the word go,” Messi told DeporTV. “I knew that I wasn’t coming off the back of a great year, in which I had to get through many problems, both on and off the pitch. It was a real challenge to change the image that I had given last season and to get back to my old self. That was my objective and with that in mind I started the season.”

Messi has turned it around this season, scoring 38 goals in all competitions, including 26 in La Liga and eight in the UEFA Champions League.


Liverpool is expected to offer young midfielder Jordon Ibe a new long-term contract after recent impressive displays. (REPORT)

Paris Saint-Germain winger Lucas Moura will miss the next four weeks of action after scans came back showing a groin injury, which he originally suffered on Saturday against Caen. (REPORT)

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will not miss as much time as originally thought after suffering just a severe bruise in Schalke 04’s 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? What do you think of Mourinho’s proposals? Do you see them convincing the smaller nations to vote for him? What did you think of Tigres’ win?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It is as not as easy as it looks Luis! Even if you do manage to change the world cup format it likely will not take effect until after you have left office.

  2. Crazy like a fox; Figo is promising smaller nations — all of which have a vote — better access to the World Cup.

    Perhaps it could act like a play-in tournament.

    • That’s what I’m thinking too. He knows plenty of UEFA countries hate Blatter and might vote for a reasonable alternative, but Blatter has most of the Asian and African federations in his pocket, so Figo is trying to give them incentive to jump ship.

  3. I have a crazy idea. How about we have mini-tournaments on every continent first and the best teams from those tournaments play in a final tournament. Except most of the time the best team from that made up Oceania continent place.

    • We’ll make it up to the Oceania people by letting a disproportionate number of them play in another sports international event. To help them deal with their rejection maybe we’ll let them tackle each other in that one and do intimidating dances if they would like before each match. I am just throwing some crazy ideas out there.

  4. I do like the grassroots initiative, but this totally sounds like he’s curbing votes among less developed football nations (don’t really blame him considering who he’s up against). Not sure about the old school offside rule, either.

  5. Expanding the World Cup field would be dumb. The only confederation with decent teams being left out is UEFA, but UEFA already covers a crazy percentage of the field.

    • I’m not sure about that. You only need 8 more. You could add 2 from UEFA, 1 from CAF, 1 from CONCACAF, 1 from AFC, 1 from CONMEBOL and 2 wild cards. There are enough good countries to fill that up. If this plan were in place Panama would have made it and I think we all think they deserved it.

      • Yup. Imagine Panama (who deserved it) and New Zealand (which would have been cool) in the tournament, and Mexico (who did not deserve it) out of the tournament. From a media standpoint, sure, a World Cup without Mexico is awful for ratings, but since New Zealand won OFC, NZ absolutely deserved it more than Mexico. Maybe expanding to 40 teams would have changed this.

      • I think Panama would have embarrassed themselves. They don’t have anything close to the attacking talent of Honduras, who was clearly over-matched in Brazil.

    • I don’t think Panama or New Zealand would have added much to the World Cup. I think 32 is just about right at this point. There weren’t really any non-competitive teams in Brazil but I think the teams that just missed out aren’t really at the same level. The exception is UEFA but Figo is talking about adding more non-European teams. The last thing we need is more Asian, African or even North American teams at the world cup.

      I also don’t see how winning OFC means anything. New Zealand is about the only country left in the OFC that isn’t a tiny island. Beating the likes of Vanuatu and Samoa doesn’t make them worthy of a world cup spot automatically.

      • the US used to be a laughing stock in world cups but we are progressing…

        the point is, you allow the small nations to participate consistently and eventually they will figure out the talent level and adjust accordingly… it wont happen overnight, just like the USMNT rise didnt happen overnight.

  6. Crazy talk like this is why bladder is still in charge. If someone is to really challenge bladder, they need a logical plan that’s for the betterment of the global game and most importantly to have a legit oversight committee that are outside of the regional voters who are susceptible to taking bribes.

    • Actually, it’s not that stupid. While it might take some of the suspense out of the initial qualifying rounds, either proposal will spark greater interest overall. Naturally, under the first scenario, 40 teams will mean more countries interested in the finals. The greater prospect of getting there will spark interest in some countries that have no real ambitions now of making the Cup. Under the latter scenario, there will be intense interest in the 24-team initial group phases, for all 48 countries involved. Because of the travel demands for supporters, I don’t think you can eliminate the group phase of the finals. Expecting people to make a long trip facing the possibility of a one-and-done ending for their side? Not a great idea. But, a group phase with 24 teams worked in the old days.


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