Possible World Cup formats after expansion to 40 or 48 teams
FIFA set to expand the number of World Cup teams from 32 to 40 or 48
FIFA appears set to expand the number of World Cup teams from 32 to 40 or 48 when its council meets on the issue Tuesday.
The following four tournament formats are likely to be discussed:
World Cup with 40 teams - 8x5:
The 40 teams play in eight groups of five teams, with winners and runners-up advancing in the knock-out stages starting with last 16.
Cons: Uneven number of teams could lead to fiddling in the group stage. The tournament would have 96 matches (80 alone in the group stage), a sharp increase from the current 64 games.
World Cup with 40 teams - 10x4:
The 40 teams play in 10 groups of four teams, with all winners and six runners-up advancing into the knock-out stages starting with last 16.
Cons: Fiddling could be possible as only six runners-up advance. Group stage alone would see 60 games, whole tournament 76.
World Cup with 48 teams - play-offs:
Sixteen teams are seeded and 32 others determine the remaining 16 in play-off ties. Tournament continues in current 32-team format for 80 games overall.
Cons: While big nations such as Germany and Brazil would be seeded FIFA could have a marketing problem as some teams would go home after just one game.
World Cup with 48 teams - 16x3:
In the seemingly favoured format, 48 teams play in 16 groups of three teams, with winners and runners-up advancing to knock-out stages starting with last 32. Tournament would have 80 games.
Cons: Fiddling possible even though winners are to be determined on penalties in group games if matches are tied after 90 minutes. Doing away with draw is against long-standing football culture.