FIFA to study expanding 2026 World Cup to 40 or 48 teams

FIFA is to take a closer look at the options for expanding the World Cup to 40 or 48 teams for 2026.

Football's governing body said in a statement on Friday: "Following discussions in a positive spirit, the 2026 FIFA World Cup may have an expanded 40- or 48-team competition format, pending further analysis of different options by the FIFA administration, with a final decision to be made on the format at the next Council meeting in January."

On Thursday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino revealed that the organisation's highest decision-making body supports the idea in the belief that it will increase the global popularity of the game.

Infantino confirmed on Friday that a bigger World Cup would be for sporting reasons, "not a financial or political decision."

Still, he foresaw more revenue from FIFA's current $5 billion per tournament, which could help increase the funding he promised to FIFA members.

"Whatever additional costs there will be, will be largely outweighed by additional revenues, obviously. Which means we are in a comfortable position," Infantino said.

Earlier this month, Infantino raised the prospect of a 48-team World Cup that would see 16 teams eliminated after one knockout match.

The tournament in its current format has 32 nations competing at the finals, with the next World Cup being hosted by Russia in two years' time before Qatar in 2022. The hosts for 2026 have yet to be chosen.

The FIFA Council will make a final decision on the format of future World Cups on Jan. 9-10.