​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 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.


The changes, which will come into effect in 2026, mark the first World Cup expansion since 1998 and will see 16 groups of three compete for a place in a 32-team knockout section.


The number of tournament matches will rise to 80 over 32 days (an increase from 64) but the finalists will continue to play seven games.


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". as reported by the BBC.

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"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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