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FIFA chief backs ‘more open’ 48-team World Cup

FIFA

ZURICH: FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed on Thursday that he backs expanding the World Cup to 48 teams, giving “more of a chance to more teams”.

Infantino believes “a fundamental point” for an expanded finals would be to have it co-hosted “by several countries”.

He also declared himself “quite happy and confident for the future” of the scandal-tainted world governing body of football.

“Nobody is perfect, I am the last to be. But I don’t steal, I don’t profit, I don’t cheat and I don’t want to allow anyone in this organisation to do so,” he said.

Infantino, 46, succeeded the disgraced Sepp Blatter at the head of FIFA, and is determined to stamp his own authority on the job as president and on the sport’s future.

He had already suggested that he would be in favour of a 40-team World Cup, up from the current 32.

“We can consider a World Cup of 48 teams which would in fact be a 32-team format because we have seen that the ideal format is 32 teams,” explained Infantino.

“The idea would be that the best 16 teams in qualifying would qualify directly for the group phase.”

He confirmed that the 32 other teams would dispute a play-off round from which the winners would enter the next stage to join the other 16 countries.

“This gives more chances for more teams. Furthermore, there would be no impact on the football calendar because these play-off matches would be played instead of friendlies before the World Cup.

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