World Cup: FIFA President Proposes 48-team Tournament

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FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, has proposed expanding the World Cup finals to 48 teams – after initially suggesting he wanted to boost it to 40.

According to the 46-year-old Italian, 16 countries would be eliminated after a preliminary knockout round.
The rest of the tournament would then be the same as it is now, with 32 teams competing in the group stages, followed by further knockout rounds.

Infantino said a decision on possible expansion would be taken in January.
“These are ideas to find the best solution,” he said. “We will debate them this month and we will decide everything by 2017.”
Infantino took charge of world football’s governing body in February.

One of his election promises was to expand the World Cup to 40 teams.
But his idea now is that 32 teams take part in a preliminary knockout round in the host country, with the winners joining 16 seeded teams in the group stages.

“It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party,” said Infantino, who replaced Sepp Blatter.
“FIFA’s idea is to develop football in the whole world. The World Cup is the biggest event there is. It’s more than a competition, it’s a social event.”

Meanwhile, FIFA has imposed sanctions on 11 football associations for unsporting and discriminatory conduct by their fans during 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, Italy and Albania have all received fines.
Chile has also been ordered to play its qualifier against Venezuela on March 28, 2017 behind closed doors.
This is because it is its second infringement this year.

In May, the Chileans were banned from playing at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos in Santiago for two matches and fined 30,000 Swiss Francs (£24,004) as a result of homophobic chants from supporters, with the second suspension suspended for a year.
Some of the recent incidents by fans of the 11 nations included homophobic chants.
The fines range from 65,000 Swiss Francs (£52,009), given to Honduras for two cases, to the 20,000 Swiss Francs (£16,002) for Brazil and Canada.