World Cup restructure forms part of Figo's manifesto

Luis Figo has revealed he would hold an open debate on the future structure of the World Cup if elected FIFA president in May.

FIFA presidential candidate Luis Figo has confirmed that he would be keen to see an open debate on the future of the World Cup.

The Portugal legend announced his intention to challenge Sepp Blatter for the presidency in late January and revealed his manifesto at Wembley Stadium in London on Thursday.

As well as holding debate on increasing the number of teams in the World Cup to as many as 48, Figo also said he would look to improve funding of grassroots football around the world with the help of an overhaul of FIFA's solidarity payments.

"The World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world with interest from fans increasing exponentially at each new edition. It is a true treasure for FIFA and its Member Associations and I propose to have an open debate at the FIFA Congress on its future," Figo said.

"I believe we should consider proposals to expand the competition from its current 32 team structure, to a 40 or even 48-team World Cup. Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play. If this expansion were to take place, I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations."

The former Real Madrid and Barcelona star would also support further debate on the use of technology in football, as well as amending the triple punishment rule, the testing of sin-bins for unsporting behaviour towards referees and an offside rule where a player is judged offside whether directly involved in the play or not. 

Figo, who wants 50 per cent of FIFA's revenues to be redistributed to member nations over four years, added: "I propose creating school football projects in every Member Association country. And it is why I want to see at least 50 per cent of FIFA’s Solidarity funds spent on grassroots football pitches, balls and kits.

"After many conversations with football leaders, one of the consistent themes fed back to me is the way FIFA currently distributes revenues to its Member Associations is very inefficient and ineffective - especially for developing football across all Associations.

"If done in the right way, with a clearly defined strategy that is centrally audited and monitored, this investment will radically enhance football opportunities for boys and girls and directly benefit all of FIFA’s 209 Member Associations."