It would appear as though the world’s sports fan in general and soccer fans in particular, cannot get enough of the game, as evidenced by the FIFA decision to expand the World Cup by 16 sides, even if the consequence might be a downgrading of the level of the football being played.
FIFA is taking a measured approached to the expansion and it could reasonably be said that they are not in any sort of all-fired hurry to complete the expansion, targeting the expansion of the men’s World Cup from 332 to 48 teams for 2026.
Current FIFA President Gianni Infantino needs to get buy-in from his ruling council for the change, which would feature 16 groups of three teams apiece.
The current 32-team format has been successful, that is, profitable, since it was instituted in 1998, so there are some members of the World Cup who are expressing skepticism, notably reigning champion Germany. That faction maintains that expansion would dilute the European and South American teams and cause some of the qualifying tournaments to be uncompetitive.
Infantino claims that the proposal for the expansion enjoys majority support amongst FIFA’s 211 member federations. The primary beneficiaries would Africa and Asia, where vast populations and increasing living standards could prove fertile territory for FIFA.