FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Tuesday suggested the idea of increasing the number of teams in the World Cup from 32 to a whopping 48, which would see 16 teams eliminated after one knockout match.
The chief of world football's governing body disclosed his plan in Bogota, Colombia, where he was speaking at an event in a university. He stated that a final decision on the matter would be taken in January next year after discussions with a FIFA council next week.
"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. It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party," Infantino said.
Months ago, Infantino had suggested the idea of a 40-team World Cup, which attracted a number of critics, including Germany's World Cup winning coach, Joachim Low, who felt that a bloated event would dilute the tournament's sporting value.
But, Infantino has stuck to his guns. "FIFA's idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event there is. It's more than a competition, it's a social event," he added.