The FIFA Council have unanimously voted to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.
The decision taken by the non-executive and strategic body of 34 FIFA members, had been the brainchild of new FIFA president Gianni Infantino, and has now been ratified in Zurich on Tuesday morning.
The FIFA Council unanimously decided on a 48-team #WorldCup as of 2026:— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) January 10, 2017
16 groups of 3 teams. Details to follow after the meeting.
The Swiss-Italian successor to the controversial Sepp Blatter made the proposed expansion one of his key manifesto pledges, and the positive vote will serve as a major boost to Infantino's re-election prospects in 2019.
Africa now set for 9, not 5, World Cup places. So 16.6% of African teams would qualify, rather than current 9.25%. Sth America set for 60%. https://t.co/k6Y0ZXZNtz— Piers Edwards (@piers_e) January 10, 2017
There has also been some suggestion that the new tournament will feature penalty shoot outs where group stage draws occur.
Infantino has repeatedly claimed his motivation for revamping the world's most prestigious international tournament is not money, but rather to give a chance to smaller, underrepresented nations.
Speaking at a conference in Dubai in December, Infantino claimed the move would benefit "the development of football all over the world".
"There is nothing bigger in terms of boosting football in a country than participating in a World Cup."
The BBC also reports that FIFA predicts an extra income of $1bn extra income from broadcasting, sponsor deals and additional ticket sales.
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