Belfast Telegraph

World Cup shake-up would not improve the game: Wenger

By Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is "sceptical" about plans to extend the World Cup to a 48-team tournament.FIFA president Gianni Infantino is pushing for an expanded competition from the 2026 World Cup onwards, with 32 nations competing at the finals under the current set-up.

Infantino favours a structure which would see 16 groups of three teams, with the top two then advancing into the last 32 knockout system.

A decision on the potential World Cup reforms will be made in January but Wenger has already suggested the changes may not improve the competition and could be made for the wrong reasons.

"Is it guided for popular reasons? Or guided to improve the level of football? I'm a bit sceptical," he said yesterday.

"I am not convinced. We have moved to 24 teams in Europe (for the European Championships), that's basically 50 per cent of the teams we have in Europe.

"I can't see that being a huge improvement on the quality of the game. But 48 teams... we have about 300 teams in the world, the percentage looks that it could be accepted."

Even if Infantino's preferred measures are not adopted, there could still be changes made to the World Cup, with different permutations of the 48-team format or an expansion to 40 teams also on the agenda.

Belfast Telegraph


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