Football

European clubs oppose World Cup expansion

Europe's powerful clubs have told football governing body Fifa that they are opposed to plans to expand the World Cup from its current 32 teams.

Gianni Infantino, the president of the Fifa Council, has said he wants to increase the quadrennial tournament to 48 teams from 2026 and the body is expected to reach a decision at its next meeting next month.

However, the European Club Association (ECA), which represents more than 200 clubs across the continent, said it was against any expansion.

"The number of games being played throughout the year has already reached an unacceptable level, in particular for national team players," said an ECA statement.

"The ECA Executive Board rejects such initiative and has today sent a letter to Gianni Infantino calling on Fifa not to increase the number of participants at future World Cups."

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge added: "We have to focus on the sport... Politics and commerce should not be the exclusive priority in football."

The Fifa Council will consider four possible formats for the World Cup next month.

The first possibility is to keep the current 32-team format with eight groups of four followed by a knockout contest. A second option would be a 40-team tournament with either eight groups of five or 10 groups of four.

The third choice is for a 48-team tournament consisting of a preliminary round of 16 knockout ties with the winners joining 16 more teams in a 32-team group stage. The fourth proposal, favoured by Infantino, is for 48 teams divided into 16 groups of three. - REUTERS

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