On October 4th, it was announced that there will be a possible expansion of the FIFA World Cup. FIFA President Gianni Infantino proposed widening the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 teams, an even higher number from his original suggestion of 40 teams.
Infantino’s plan would have the 16 seeded teams carry through to group stages and leave the remaining 32 teams to battle it out for a place in the group stages. That being said, the teams will go through preliminary knockouts which will then result in 16 teams being eliminated from the competition, leaving 32 teams participating in groups stages.
This change would most likely result in a longer World Cup, by a few days give or take, but not necessarily lead to more venues being used. There would be a proposed 72-76 games instead of the customary 64. But is the idea of holding a longer event good or bad? If it follows Infantino’s plan then the schedule will consist of knockout-group stage-knockout which could be more exciting. The thought of even more countries being involved would not only draw in more spectators, but the excitement behind the knockout games would make them even more meaningful. Players will be giving all they’ve got just to make it to the group stage. Nonetheless it’d be heartbreaking for those countries who have worked for two years just to qualify, see their hard work and dedication ripped away in a 90 minute game.
Realistically, this plan could work, but then other matters come into play when considering this change. Would countries be willing to pay fares and travel to Qatar in 2022 just to be eliminated after 90 minutes? Would sponsors, broadcasters, or marketing persona be willing to pay for what could possibly last only 90 minutes? While the passion from fans would be at an all time high level, as would that of the viewers, would this be worth it financially?
The vote to expand will take place in January 2017, so as of now, everything is just suggestions and hypotheticals. Will Gianni Infantino’s plan pass or is it just another way to stir the pot?