Belfast Telegraph

Could 48 teams compete in the 2022 World Cup? FIFA aiming to fast-track expansion

FIFA are attempting to fast-track plans to expand the World Cup, according to President. Gianni Infantino

It has already been announced that from 2026, the World Cup finals will be played between 48 teams instead of 32, with the USA, Mexico and Canada combining to host the first expanded tournament.

However, FIFA President Infantino has now announced his intention to bring forward those changes to the next tournament, which is due to be played in Qatar in November and December 2022.

"If it is possible, why not?" he said. "We have to see if it is possible, if it is feasible. We are discussing with our Qatari friends, we are discussing with our many other friends in the region and we hope that this can happen.

"And, if not, we will have tried. We will have tried because we always have to try to do things in a better way."

UEFA is set to send 16 qualifying nations to the enhanced tournament, increasing Northern Ireland's chances of qualifying for the World Cup finals for the first time since 1986. Details of the altered qualification process have yet to be announced.

Infantino also spoke of his desire to expand the Club World Cup, currently played between the continental champions, saying he wants to make it a "real competition" that "every club in the world can target".

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