Published: Thu, January 12, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Asia pushes for more spots in expanded World Cup

The 37 Council members were asked to select their favourite from five proposals: two involving a 48-team set-up, two 40-team tournaments, and the current 32-team format.

Diego Maradona is delighted by plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams and Argentina's former captain said on Monday that it would rekindle interest in the tournament.

Where matters get more complicated, though, is in the Americas, where two confederations, North and Central America's CONCACAF and South America's CONMEBOL, now share seven guaranteed places and two play-off slots with other regions.

According to Rob Harris of the Associated Press, this new format is expected to generate an increase of $975 million in revenue for the organization. And on the television side? That compares with a $5.5 billion projection for next year's tournament in Russian Federation. Each of us has a wish list in our minds and want to ensure that our teams do well from an expanded tournament. Infantino, however, has promised a bigger World Cup "without any additional match" and it doesn't rub the big clubs the wrong way.

"More nations taking part means more passion, more happiness, more enthusiasm", he told FIFA's official website. For better or worse, these national associations worked to earn their place in the world's most sought after competition.

Infantino said: "We are in the 21st century so we have to shape a World Cup for the 21st century". As someone who believes that what the world really lacks for is a further glittering night of industrial frottage, I am pleased to see the Fifa president identify the need for the football family to come together in this manner.

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A 48-team World Cup simply confirms that this type of elite sport is becoming less elite and less about sport.

European confederation UEFA, however, is desperate to defend its position as the largest provider of World Cup teams, even though its percentage of the finalists will inevitably decrease. Federation Internationale de Football Association had to make it up to Fox and extend their agreement into 2026, perhaps to avoid a lawsuit over the 2022 debacle.

The 2026 World Cup is still nine years away and while we now know that the tournament will have 48 teams, a host for the event has not been chosen.

"Aside being good news to Africa".

It's a triple threat jackpot for Fox.

Thus the tournament will feature 80 matches rather than the current 64 but still fall within the current 32-day schedule, courtesy of an initial four-games-a-day format. Exposure to the biggest football for teams in Africa will open more opportunities for a new generation of players, coaches, administrators and fans. It would also help alleviate some of the concerns that qualifying would be be too easy in both CONCACAF and CONMEBOL. Because regardless of the impact on the quality of the World Cup, the increase in quantity will mean that everyone gets to cash in.

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