The FIFA Council on 10 January 2017 unanimously voted to expand the FIFA World Cup to a 48-team competition.
At the 3rd meeting at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on 9 and 10 January 2017, the council decided on a new tournament format with the 48 national teams split into 16 groups of three teams. The top two teams from each group will then move forward to a 32-team knockout stage.
Key highlights of the new format
• The new format is set to be introduced in the year 2026.
• There will be no reduction in the overall number of rest days and a guaranteed maximum of seven matches for the teams reaching the final.
• The council zeroed in on the decision following a thorough analysis, based on a report that included four different format options.
• The study looked onto factors such as sporting balance, competition quality, infrastructure, impact on football development, the consequences for event delivery and the projections on financial position.
• The FIFA Council had already discussed the scenarios to expand the competition format of the FIFA World Cup at its meeting in October 2016.
• The council had also set out a set of principles for countries to bid for the right to host the 2026 edition. At present, the process is scheduled to culminate in May 2020.
• The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is the international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer.
• It is responsible for the organisation of football's major international tournaments. It organises notably the World Cup and the Women's World Cup.
• It was founded in 1904.
• Its aim is to oversee international competition among the national associations of Switzerland, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Sweden, and Belgium.
• It is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland.