Sports / Updates
Wednesday, 11 Jan 2017 13:56 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
The FIFA World Cup will be growing in size in the near future. The FIFA Council yesterday in Zurich, Switzerland, decided to expand the size of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams starting in 2026. The vote was unanimous as the federation looks to include more countries in its world competition.
The 48-nation World Cup will feature 16 groups comprised of three teams, and the top two teams in each group will advance into a 32-team knock-out stage that will eventually lead to a World champion. The number of games in a tournament will rise from a total of 64 games in the current 32-team to 80.
FIFA’s announcement was quickly met with criticism from mainly European analysts, many who emphasized that 48 teams is way too many and that 32 is the most ideal number for providing the highest quality of play. According to numerous sources such as the Globe and Mail the “absolute quality” of play in a soccer team, by definition high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is with 32 teams; FIFA that number citing 10,000 tournament simulations they made to reach that conclusion.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino, fulfilling a promise he made during last year's election campaign, said the move meant that "more can participate and many more will have a chance to dream". FIFA's 211 member associations each hold one vote in the presidential election, and 135 of them have never played at a World Cup, so expansion of the tournament was always likely to appeal to members.
Africa, which now takes five teams to the World Cup, could get up to three new slots depending on how the increment is shared among the regions.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.