The European Club Association led by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says world football governing council, FIFA should reconsider the plan to expand the current number of world cup participants from 32 to 48.
The Gianni Infantino-led council had in October announced plans to host a 48-nation tournament starting from 2026; a move whose legitimate fate is bid to be decided on January 10, next year.
In the proposed format, 16 groups constituted of three teams each will involve the top two teams advancing to a 32-side knockout round. However, the 220-club constituted ECA says the number of games played each season “has already reached an unacceptable level.”
“In the interest of the fans and the players, we urge FIFA not to increase the number of world cup participants,” pleaded the chairman in a letter addressed to FIFA.
In a move many see as commerce-focused and politically motivated, the Infantino-led council seems to have made up their minds to increase the number of invitees to the quadrennial summer party especially in the one slated to be hosted in North America come 2026.
This will see an additional 368 players and 16 teams joining the one month (tourney). Many pundits and critics claim to see right through Infantino’s “chess-moves” claiming that his re-election hopes rest mostly on the promises he made to FIFA’s 211 member federations – something an expanded and more lucrative 2018 World Cup will aid him in fulfilling.
The Italian initially promised to expand the number of World Cup slots to 40 and double development grants to $5 million to member nations from each World Cup.
Rummenigge, also Bayern Munich chairman, maintains that the interest of the beautiful game should be put first before any other form of satisfaction. According to him “politics and commerce” should not be exclusive priority in football