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World Cup could feature 40 teams by 2026

The World Cup could be expanded to 40 teams by 2026 with FIFA set to make a decision on the potential new format later this year. A World Cup has never featured more than 32 teams.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s election promise to expand the World Cup could become a reality by October after a meeting of the new FIFA council set out a clear timetable for change at a meeting in Mexico City on Tuesday.

Infantino pledged his support for the idea in his campaign to replace Sepp Blatter earlier this year and any expansion would follow the lead of the European Championships which this year will feature 24 teams for the first time.

FIFA said that decisions were expected by October on the number of teams, the format for the tournament, the "eligibility of (continental) confederations to bid" and whether to allow joint bids.

Joint bids were banned in 2011 but Infantino has said he wants to encourage them, possibly spreading the tournament around several countries in a region. Again, this would follow the lead of the Euros, which will be held across the continent in 2020.

The council also revealed that the 2026 World Cup host will be decided by a vote of the FIFA Congress in May 2020. The United States, Canada and Mexico are thought to be the leading contenders.

Gianni Infantino FIFA Präsident

FIFA president Gianni Infantino wants the World Cup to expand to 40 teams

But not everyone is a fan of making summer tournaments bigger. Germany coach Joachim Löw recently told the German Football Federation’s website he was unconvinced that more team in the Euros made for a better spectacle.

"I found having 16 teams in the competition better and thought it was a more attractive prospect for fans," Löw said.

The FIFA congress will be held in Mexico City on Friday when the admission of Kosovo, recently admitted to UEFA, and Gibraltar will be decided. The council postponed any decision on Infantino’s replacement as secretary general until another council meeting at FIFA headquarters in Zurich in October.

mp/apc (DPA)

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