Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Infantino Thinks Too Big for Finals

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The World Cup finals could be expanded to include 40 teams in 2026, the Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, said in Montevideo on Tuesday, adding that South America would be given five places.

Infantino, elected present of the world governing body in February, said: “We must open the finals up to more teams. The idea would be from 2026. We’re going to talk about this with everyone: players, the Fifa council. Not only do you give lots of teams the possibility of taking part, but also to many of dreaming of a place in the finals.”

The finals have had 32 teams since 1998 and the champions, who used to automatically qualify as holders, have had to go into the qualifying phase from the 2006 tournament. Infantino said he did not plan to change this policy under the new plans.

South America has four automatic berths and one in an intercontinental playoff for a 32-team tournament.

“My proposal for South America is five fixed places and maybe one more to play for on the pitch,” Infantino explained. He did not say how the eight new places would be distributed or played for.

The hosts for the 2026 finals have yet to be voted on while the 2018 tournament will be held in Russia and 2022 in Qatar.

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