Infantino backs 48-team World Cup with 16 groups

HD Gianni Infantino
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The FIFA president reportedly wants the competition split into groups of three and is expected to submit his proposal to the FIFA Council in January

Gianni Infantino has given his backing to a 48-team World Cup made up of 16 groups of three in the first round, according to AFP.

The news agency reports that the FIFA president wants the new system to begin with the 2026 tournament.

Infantino had originally called for a 40-team World Cup when he ran to succeed Sepp Blatter, but later changed his stance to include a further eight teams, but with 32 teams progressing to the finals.

According to BBC, Infantino feels such a setup for he competition “shares the World Cup experience with the world” allows more countries to compete in the sport's biggest tournament.

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AFP reports that the new format said to be preferred by the president will be outlined in a letter sent to members of the FIFA Council.

Infantino will submit the new proposal at a meeting with the FIFA Council in January and a vote will be held on several proposals over expanding the competition or sticking with the current system.

The former UEFA general secretary has previously hinted at the 2026 competition going to North America, while he has said he is in favour of several countries hosting a single World Cup.