After reaching the decision to expand the FIFA World Cup™ to 48 teams in 2026, members of the FIFA Council spoke to FIFA.com about their thoughts.** **
Gianni Infantino, FIFA President I put an expansion of the World Cup in my manifesto, and the proposal I made at that time was for 40 teams with eight groups of five and three additional matchdays, and eight games for the finalists. We have come out with a format that is actually better because it reduces the amount of matchdays compared to the proposal, but it also brings in more associations to the event. The football fever that you have in a country that qualify for a World Cup is the biggest, most powerful promotional tool for football that you can have. When it comes to the club sides, the main point was that we do not add to the calendar and the burden on the players and we have achieved this.
Victor Montagliani (CAN) The President had support from day one in terms of the concept. We just had to figure out what that looked like. There was extensive research done, it was well thought out, and it’s a great day for football. It was well researched by the staff, all the facts and figures were there. There was discussion over the cost-benefit analysis and some details, but it was pretty obvious this format was the best way to go. Alejandro Domínguez (PAR) This is a decision that has been taken for the benefit of the entire football community and it will contribute to the development of the game around the world. Football is and will remain being a magical and competitive sport that will capture the attention of the fans. It will be something very special for a team to win a World Cup with 48 teams.
Evelina Christillin (ITA) Since FIFA now has 211 Member Associations, it’s good to enlarge participation to more countries. If you follow the trend from 1982 to 1998 , we see that there has been more or less the same percentage of participants from the world. I think the format of 16 groups of three is also a good one. I think it’s a fair and right expansion.
Kohzo Tashima (JPN)
We reached the decision after listening to FIFA analysis of four different options. They gave us very good information. The number of matches increased, but the first game until the final is just seven matches for the finalists. That has not changed, and the number of rest days per match will not be reduced. So quality of competition will be kept, which is important for my football side. The duration of the tournament will not be changed, so there is no impact for the clubs or players.