FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Monday he would like to expand the number of teams in the World Cup to 48 by adding a one-match playoff at the tournament’s start.
The proposal will see a play-in round added three days before the current 32-team group stage. From that stage, the tournament would continue as usual.
Infantino confirmed that the proposal will be discussed at a FIFA council next week, before a final decision is taken in January 2017.
“The idea is that 16 teams would qualify directly to the group stage and the other 32 would play in a preliminary phase, in the country where the World Cup is being played – they would play for the remaining 16 places,” Infantino said.
“It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party.”
During his campaign for the FIFA presidency, Infantino had pushed for a 40-team World Cup after Qatar 2022, to allow more countries participate.
“FIFA’s idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event.
“It’s more than a competition, it’s a social event”, he added.