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Fifa discuss plans to expand World Cup final tournament to 48 teams from 2026

Gianni Infatino/PHOTO/The Sun

The SUN-Gianni Infantino reveals January vote on whether to add 16 nations to the tournament on tour of Colombia

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he wants to expand the World Cup finals to include 48 teams.

Infantino wants to increase the number of sides taking part in the tournament by 16 from the current 32-nation format.

The 46-year-old has revealed Fifa are currently discussing the plans that would come into force for the 2026 tournament, with a decision to be made in January.

Quoted by Colombian newspaper El Pais, he said: “From a sporting point of view it is ideal to have 32 countries, while 48 is complicated. So this is an idea, but not definitive.

“Ideas are to reconsider and find the best. It will all be discussed this month and will be decided in January 2017.

“They are ideas that are released to see if anyone has a better idea.”

Infantino’s suggestion would see the losers of 16 preliminary knockout round matches go home after just one game, with the 16 winners progressing to join 16 seeded teams in the group stage.

He added: “The World Cup is very well organised in its system of competition with 32 countries, groups and classifications for the second round, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.

So the idea is to be 16 seeded countries and a first phase of 32 countries, with a direct elimination game to advance and continue the normal World Cup with 32, but 48 teams go to the party.

“The idea of Fifa is to develop football worldwide, and the World Cup is the biggest event in the world – not just sport – because it is a competition.

“It is a social event, because in the streets speaking world, it has a very important impact.