The FIFA World Cup is the world’s biggest footballing event in the world and it is held every four years in a chosen country by FIFA. The world cup since its inception with 13 countries have now being expanded 32 countries and the next edition is expected to take place in Russia in 2018. The world cup is FIFA’s main product to which it gathers revenue. The FIFA world have being subjected to changes down the years. In 2013 the then FIFA president Sepp Blatter spoke about increasing the number of countries to 40. After Blatter’s forced exit, Gianni Infantino took over as the FIFA President. Infantino promised a lot of reforms including expanding the number of world cup countries to 48.
In this article, SportsGoogly will discuss the structure and implementation of the 48 countries world cup. In one of the FIFA council meetings, the FIFA president Gianni Infantino will present the idea to the council for consideration. If the FIFA council also agrees to the idea of a 48 teams’ world cup, it will be then presented to the FIFA congress for voting to be casted on the reform. In this article we shall discuss the pros and cons of the 48 teams’ world cup and would it be necessary, what will be the added advantage. Keep on reading the article for explanations and answers to all these basic questions.
Previous World Cup Formats:
Format of 1930 world Cup: A group stage with 13 countries, followed by a knockout stage with 4 teams (note that no third place match was played)
Format of the World Cup from 1934-1938: Single elimination tournament with 16 countries and these world cups were the only tournaments without a group stage
Format of 1950 World Cup: This was the first time we had two group stages in a single world cup. First group stage, followed by a final group stage of 8 countries and this is the only world without knockout games.
Format of 1954-1970 World Cup: A group stage with 16 teams, followed by a knockout stage with 8 teams.
Format of 1974-1978 World Cup: A first group stage, followed by a second group stage with 8 teams. The winner of group A in the second group and the winner of group B played in the final with both runners up of both groups playing the third place fixture.
Format of 1982 World Cup: A first group stage with 24 countries, followed by a second group stage with 12 teams, followed by a knockout stage with 4 countries.
Format of 1986-1994 World Cup: A group stage was held, followed by a knockout stage with 16 teams with group winners, runners up and four best third placed teams.
Format of 1998 World Cup up to date: A group stage with 32 countries, followed by a knockout stage with 16 countries (Group winners and runners up.
Proposed Format of the FIFA World Cup:
• The 47 qualified countries from each confederation will converge at the host country for the world cup adding up to 48 countries.
- 16 best countries including the host country will be seeded and drawn by from the remaining 32 countries.
- The 32 countries will play one off knockout games which will be held at the host country. 16 teams will be eliminated in the one off knockout games.
- The 16 countries which qualified from the one off knockout stage will join the 16 nations which were on by. The 32 nations will then be drawn into 8 groups, the winners and runners up of each group will progress to the knockout stages.
At present Africa has five places in the world cup, Asia four and a half, Europe 13, North and Central America three and a half, South America four and a half, Oceania half a place and one goes to the host making it 32 countries. This new format wishes to give more slots to confederations which are not properly represented. Africa, Asia and North/Central America are said to be the beneficiaries of a 48 nations world.
The Advantage of this Proposed Format:
This format will involve more countries. The first knockout stage will mean that the 32 will battle their way for a group stage place. Financially, FIFA will get more revenue from TV rights as the number of matches will increase and countries that were always left out from the world cup and did not feel to buy the TV rights will be lured to buy the rights. In conclusion, Countries that never dream of participating in the world cup finals will realize their dreams.
The Disadvantage of the Proposed Format:
As the number of countries increase, the cost of organizing the tournament will also increase because FIFA funds all the national teams that appears in the world cup. Many are those who believe that it is not necessary to add 16 nations which will be eliminated in a one off game. Founding a team and preparing the team to play in the world cup and the team will only play a single game in the world cup. A lot of football expects do not disagree with the increase of the countries to 48 but rather the format to which the world cup will be played.
The Proposed Format if accepted will be will be implemented in the 2026 world cup. The proposed format and increase in world cup slots will be presented to the FIFA council for debate and consideration. After the FIFA council have accepted the idea of increasing the slots and being certified with the format of the tournament, it will be presented at the FIFA congress which is the highest decision making body of FIFA for elections to be conducted on the proposed increased of world cup slots and the format. If all due diligence is made and accepted by the FIFA congress with any delays or opposition, the implementation will be in the 2026 world cup.
Some Interesting World Cup Facts you need to know.
• Antonio Carbajal (Mexico) and Lothar (Germany) have played in 5 world cups from 1950–1966 and 1982–1998) respectively.
- Matthaus have played the most World Cup matches overall, with 25 appearances.
- Djalma Santos (Brazil), Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) and Philipp Lahm are the on players to be named in 3 teams of the tournaments in the world cup.