Yes it’s official the 2026 World Cup will include 48 teams, well that’s if we make it that far. The competition will include 16 groups with three teams per group. The top two teams from each group go through and then we switch to a knockout competition from the round of 32 all the way to the final. So quickly let’s look at the positives and negatives of this descision.
The main positive is that I gets more teams involved in the World Cup. Football is spread to even more countries and that kind of rhetoric if FIFA will be spouting as they big up the 2026 tournament, wherever it’s held. At least Scotland might qualify although with Gordon Strachan in charge you never know.
It is clear to me that the negatives clearly out weigh the positives. While FIFA can say what they like, the fact is the World Cup has been expanded so they can get more sponsorship money. It’s a classic example of FIFA valuing money over the game itself. It’s not the first times this has happened and it won’t be the last.
Perhaps the worst thing about expansion for fans is that the quality of the football will be further diluted. It could be argued that 32 teams in the tournament was already too many, even poor teams like England could qualify. We saw at the Euro’s that the expanded format directly correlated to poorer games as there are worse quality teams who don’t have to collect as many points to go through.
This purely money driven expansion of the World Cup shows that while the man at the top of FIFA may have changed, greed still fuels the organisation.