FIFA has been asked by South America’s footballing governing body to expand the 2022 World Cup finals to include 48 teams.
Under current proposals, the number of countries involved in the tournament will go up from 32 to 48 in 2026, with FIFA delegates having voted for the change last January.
However, CONMEBOL and its president Alejandro Dominguez have sent a formal request to FIFA chief Gianni Infantino to bring forward their plans by four years.
“As we think big and because we want to do justice, I want to deliver an application letter, signed by the 10 nations of CONMEBOL, for the 2022 World Cup to be played with 48 teams,” Dominguez said during the CONMEBOL congress on Thursday.
Under the 48-team proposal, six South American sides would qualify for the finals, while a seventh could secure a place via the planned six-nation play-off tournament.
Infantino said last year that the proposed increase in competitors was important for football’s developing countries, stating: “Football is more than just Europe and South America, football is global,”.
Some critics have accused FIFA of being motivated by money, though, with revenues expected to rise by 20 per cent compared to the 32-team format, while the European Club Association (ECA) expressed concerns that the plans will “dilute the competitiveness” of the event.
There are also suggestions a 48-team World Cup in Qatar would exacerbate logistical problems, as the number of matches would rise from 64 to 80 at a tournament that has already been moved to a November-December slot due to concerns about extreme summer heat.
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