After the ‘Best Ever’ Tournament in Qatar
FIFA will reconsider the format of the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada, says president Gianni Infantino.
Teams will increase from 32 to 48 for the competition and will be divided into 16 groups of three, with the top two advancing to the bottom 32.
Infantino said that will be looked at after the “success” of the four-team groups at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“Here the groups of four have been absolutely incredible,” said Infantino.
“Until the last minute of the last game you wouldn’t know who’s going through.
“We have to review or at least re-discuss the format. This is something that will certainly be on the agenda for the next meeting.”
The group stages in Qatar included some exciting final games as the countries tried to secure a place in the top two to qualify for the round of 16.
The four-team group format, with the top two going through to the knockout stages, has been used since the men’s World Cup expanded to 32 teams in 1998.
Infantino spoke at a news conference in Qatar after attending a FIFA council meeting.
With the match for third place and the final to go, he said 3.27 million viewers had attended the matches compared to a total of 3.3 million at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“Thank you to everyone involved, Qatar, all the volunteers to make this the best World Cup ever,” Infantino said.
“The matches have been played without incident. It has been a very happy atmosphere.
“Something happens when we talk about football going truly global, with an African team [Morocco] reach the semifinals for the first time.
We also had a woman [Stephanie Frappart] Refereeing a match for the first time.
“It has been an incredible success, approaching five billion in terms of viewing figures. The encounter of the fans with the Arab world has been very important for the future of all of us”.
Several European nations planned to wear a OneLove armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion, but did not do so due to potential sanctions from world soccer’s governing body, FIFA.
Germany coach Hansi Flick said his players covered their mouths during the team photo before their World Cup debut against Japan “to convey the message that FIFA is silencing” the teams.
“When it comes to rules, prohibitions, it’s not about prohibiting, it’s about respecting the rules,” Infantino said.
“Everyone is free to express their beliefs as long as they do so in a respectful way, but when it comes to the pitch, you have to respect and protect football.
“There are 211 football teams, not heads of state, and their fans want to come and enjoy football. This is what we are here for. I think we are defending values, defending human rights, defending everyone’s rights in FIFA, in the World Cup.
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