Home Archive ALAN’S RANT: Forty-eight teams at World Cup? No thanks!
ALAN’S RANT: Forty-eight teams at World Cup? No thanks!

ALAN’S RANT: Forty-eight teams at World Cup? No thanks!


ALAN JONES has something to get off his chest, and this time FIFA’s decision to up the number of teams in World Cup is in his sights…

As you may have noticed, FIFA have announced that from 2026 there will be 48 countries qualifying for the World Cup finals. I think this is a joke.

The finals should be for the best teams all around the world, and I would think most people would think that 32 teams is just about right.

Maybe the allocations of teams from which continent might need slightly adjusting, but on the whole, 32 countries work well. But not for FIFA….

They have decided that it is going up to 48. That’s right, up by 50 percent, with 16 groups of three, with the top two going through to the next round. That will mean the final fixtures for each group will know exactly what each side has to do to qualify, and no more will the final two group games take place at the same time.

But some people will say, that gives more countries a chance. But that is the point of a qualifying competition to get the best sides through. A World Cup with 48 countries, would mean just under a quarter of the countries will qualify.

FIFA are expanding the World Cup finals to feature 48 countries

What is the point of a qualifying competition if you qualify after winning a few games? We saw what happened in the Euro Champs in 2016 when they extended the competition to 24 instead of 16, the standard went down.

And no one has mentioned, logistically, what will happen. Forty-eight teams, will mean 48 sets of players, officials and hangers-on, and 48 sets of fans. Will any country cope? Is co-hosting going to happen on a regular basis?

I’m not against co-hosting, but in my opinion, only a main host should automatically qualify, with any other co-host country having to qualify.

I have said that if England were to ever host the World Cup (I’m not holding my breath though!!), I would like to see Wales, Scotland and Ireland host some fixtures, but they should not be automatic qualifiers.

As I said, I would’ve rather kept it to 32, with more of the play-off games with sides from other continents, but in my opinion, FIFA has done it to placate smaller nations, who historically have had little or no chance of qualifying, and to earn more money.

With no two games needing to kick-off at the same time, from 2026 someone can really watch all the games live…so the likelihood is that the TV rights will increase. More money to FIFA, but probably less per nation as the number of countries go up.


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