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08th Jan 2017

One of the most dramatic changes to the World Cup may be bad news for smaller European countries

Completely unnecessary changes.

Sean McMahon

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is set to have his wish for a 48-team World Cup granted this week as a FIFA council will meet to rubber-stamp the controversial proposal.

The dramatic proposal is set to take effect from the 2026 tournament onward and there is definitely a mixed reaction from various nations with regards to the change.

There are some major alterations expected in the proposal, one of which is that there will be sixteen groups of three teams compared to the current format of eight groups of four teams.

The top two sides from each group will advance to the round-of-32 knockout stage, and the Daily Telegraph reports that one of the major concerns which has been voiced from various bodies is that there will be an increase in the number of ‘dead rubber’ matches.

However, Infantino’s plan to stop this would be to introduce penalty shootouts for group matches which end in a draw – so there has to be a winner.

FA chief executive officer, Martin Glenn, said his association is powerless to stop the changes.

“I can’t influence FIFA. My number one focus is how do we make England equipped to qualify and ultimately win tournaments, that’s all I care about. I can’t influence Fifa; we’re one voice out of 211 [national associations],” Glenn told The Guardian

Glenn further raised the point which many share that an increase in the number of teams will dilute the quality of the tournament.

“Our preference would be to keep the tournament smaller, because there’s a quality factor here, but we’ll try to influence the shape of it. Everyone has a vote and the smaller countries understandably want to be part of the competition.”

Fans from smaller European countries could be forgiven for thinking that an increase in the number of teams will lead to an increase in the likelihood of them qualifying for the world’s biggest tournament.

However, it is expected that the majority of the additional spots will be allocated to nations from Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Oceania.