Council approves World Cup expansion that will add 16 teams to 2026 tournament

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The World Cup trophy is seen in the FIFA World Football Museum during its inauguration on February 28, 2016 in Zurich. Newly-elected FIFA president Gianni Infantino paid tribute to his disgraced predecessor in the job, Sepp Blatter, for the role he played in establishing a new $140million football museum which opened Sunday in Zurich. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

ZURICH — FIFA says it will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament.

President Gianni Infantino’s favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved by the FIFA Council.

4 Fast Facts

  • World Cup to expand to 48 teams
  • Council votes unanimously in favor of pan to add 16 extra nations
  • The decision will take effect for 2026 tournament
  • FIFA forecasts $1 billion in extra income from broadcasting and sponsor deals for the additional matches

It meets Infantino’s election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA’s 211 members.

With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts $1 billion extra income from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

FIFA’s six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will get.

UEFA wants 16 European teams in the tournament, which will likely be held in North America.

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