European countries will not be able to host the 2026 World Cup because of Fifa’s rotational policy.It means the previous two host confederations – Europe in 2018 and Asia in 2022 – are barred from bidding. The 2026 tournament could involve 40 or 48 nations after world governing body Fifa agreed to study in greater detail the options to expand the tournament from its 32-team format.
The proposals will be made at Fifa’s next meeting on 9 January 2017. “The feeling amongst the council is rather positive towards expansion,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino. Infantino took charge of Fifa in February and one of his election promises was to increase the number of teams at the World Cup finals to 40. However, this month the 46-year-old Italian proposed increasing that to 48 countries, with 32 taking part in a preliminary knockout round in the host country and the winners joining 16 seeded teams in the group stages. There are four options for the 2026 tournament:
Keep the existing 32-team structure
Expand to 40 teams (eight groups of five)
Expand to 40 teams (10 groups of four)
Expand to 48 teams (16 seeds joined by 32 winners of a play-off round)
Critics have expressed concerns over potentially weakening the quality of football at the finals.
Former England striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker said Fifa presidents should “do the right things for the game rather than stuff to get re-elected”. He added on social media: “Come on Mr Infantino! You have a mandate to look after football’s best interests, not your own. Do not destroy the World Cup! Please.” But speaking at a Fifa Council meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, Infantino said: “When a team qualifies for the tournament the whole country is in football euphoria. “More youngsters want to play the game, companies want to get involved in sponsorship and the benefits to football as a whole are immense. “In a 48-team format, the quality would be higher because the 32 teams would have a play-off. The quality would improve and not decrease in any way.” The 2018 World Cup will be held in Russia and the 2022 competition in Qatar.
No more limousines
Fifa secretary general Fatma Samoura said she has “corrected” some “big surprises” since taking over in May.
Samoura, the first female to be appointed to the role, told BBC Sport: “The reason why I am here is because the management and the administration of funding was questioned.
“My first job was to looking into finance. Yes, there were some big surprises which were immediately corrected.
“In four days in changing hotels, we saved £99,500. The rooms are at the same level and it is still a five-star hotel for Council members.
“No more limousines are available – we are carpooling. The mood for that was positive and it tightens links.
“A month ago, I signed an agreement with the United Nations in New York on climate change and we were the first sporting institution to sign it.”