FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is open to expanding the World Cup to 40 teams starting in 2026, with co-host duties being given to several countries.
The World Cup has not been expanded since 1994, when the tournament went from 24 teams to its current standing of 32.
The vote for hosting duties for the 2026 World Cup is set for 2020, with CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) nations like the United States and Mexico expected to bid. No CONCACAF country has hosted the World Cup since 1994, when the U.S. hosted.
“These two topics will certainly be on the table for discussion,” Infantino said. looking ahead to a meeting of the FIFA Council he will chair on Oct. 13-14 in Zurich.
Asked about a potential U.S.-Canada-Mexico project for 2026, the former UEFA general secretary noted that his previous organisation chose to hold the 2020 European Championship in 13 different host nations.
”So, there is, I would say, no limit to whatever is good for football,” Infantino said on the sidelines of a meeting of European clubs. ”We will see, but it’s true that CONCACAF did not have the World Cup for a long time.”
FIFA rules currently bar back-to-back hosting by continents, ruling out Asian bidders for 2026 after Qatar hosts in 2022, and has previously weighed requiring confederations to sit out two bidding contests.
Infantino declined to suggest if UEFA could encourage its members to skip the 2026 process with Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup.
The 2026 World Cup hosting vote is set for 2020, with FIFA member federations choosing from a shortlist drafted by the ruling council.
“For the moment I think everything is open. My opinion on the 40 teams has not changed,” Infantino said after meeting the European Club Association, many of whose members oppose releasing more of their players to an expanded World Cup.
While at UEFA, Infantino also helped oversee an expanded Euro 2016 with 24 teams for the first time instead of the 16-team format.
”We have seen it again at the Euro in France with eight more teams, what kind of enthusiasm this generated in many, many countries,” he said. ”We need to realise that these kinds of events are more than just a competition, they are real social events in the whole world.”