Gianni Infantino’s proposal to expand the World Cup to a 48-team tournament has been approved by the FIFA council on Tuesday.
The FIFA Council, the organisation’s strategic body, decided in Zurich, justifying plans to allow a further 16 teams to qualify for the finals in 2026.
Growing the tournament to a 48-team showpiece won a majority vote among the Council’s 37 members.
The FIFA Council unanimously decided on a 48-team #WorldCup as of 2026:
16 groups of 3 teams. Details to follow after the meeting.
— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) January 10, 2017
World Cup-winners Diego Maradona and Carles Puyol had spoken in favour of the 48-team format, as well as Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said it could offer better protection to players.
DFB president Reinhard Grindel however opposed the change, alongside the influential European Club Association, which represents the interests of the major sides across the continent.
English Football Association chief Martin Glenn had also stated that he would prefer the smaller format to remain.