FIFA Development Officer welcomes World Cup expansion

Voice of FIFA Development Officer Howard McIntosh

FIFA Development Officer and former JFF Technical Committee head Howard McIntosh has welcomed the expansion of teams from 32 to 48 for the 2026 World Cup and beyond.

The sport's world governing body FIFA voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday.

An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament. 

The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games. 

While admitting the financial benefits that FIFA will gain from the increase, McIntosh says the move could benefit confederations such as CONCACAF.

“Some of the nations that one could describe as being on the margin, will now have a real opportunity to qualify. One would hope that for CONCACAF it would go to at least five (qualifying spots),” said McIntosh who was speaking on Hitz 92 FM’s Sports Explosion on Tuesday.

The tournament will be completed within 32 days - a measure to appease powerful European Clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule. The changes mark the first World Cup expansion since 1998. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been behind the move, saying the World Cup has to be "more inclusive".

FIFA revenue is predicted to increase to £5.29 billion for a 48-team tournament, giving a potential profit rise of £521m.



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