Infantino favours 16 three-team groups at World Cup - report

Gianni Infantino has outlined controversial plans to reform the FIFA World Cup, starting from 2026.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino will push for a 48-team World Cup featuring 16 groups of three, according to a report from AFP.

AFP claim a source within FIFA has told them that is the revamp model preferred by Infantino and he will look for the new format to be pushed through when it is discussed at the next FIFA Council meeting on January 9-10.

The reform, which Infantino hopes will take effect from the 2026 tournament, would see each qualified team play two group games, with the top two sides then advancing to a round of 32.

Part of Infantino's manifesto when he ran for election earlier this year was to expand the competition from 32 to 40 teams, but comments he made in October hinted at an even bigger competition, albeit under a different format to the one proposed now.

"The idea is that 16 teams would qualify directly to the group stage and the other 32 would play in a preliminary phase, in the country where the World Cup is being played - they would play for the remaining 16 places," he said on a visit to the Sergio Arboleda University in Bogota three months ago.

"It means we continue with a normal World Cup for 32 teams, but 48 teams go to the party.

"FIFA's idea is to develop football in the whole world, and the World Cup is the biggest event there is. It's more than a competition, it's a social event.

"These are ideas to find the best solution, we will debate them this month and we will decide everything by 2017.

"They are ideas which we put forward to see which one is the best."

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