Baku, October 14, AZERTAC
FIFA will decide on the size of the field and format for the 2026 World Cup in January. FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed that while the FIFA Council had discussed the potential of expanding the World Cup to 40 or 48 teams, the final decision on the future of the tournament won't be made until after the new year, according to FOX Sports.
The FIFA Council will next meet in January and that is when Infantino expects them to vote on the format. Infantino has long favored expanding the World Cup and said that the discussions they had at this week's meeting was "rather positive." The key topic of conversation is whether they would expand to 40 or 48 teams.
Infantino has spoken about his preference for a 48-team format with 16 "play-in" matches to open the tournament, then the current 32-team format from that point on.
The talk about the 2026 World Cup is not limited just to field and format. The FIFA Council will also decide the process for bidding to host the tournament and the regulations that will govern it. That's of particular concern after the allegations of corruption and bribery regarding the bidding on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Infantino has said that establishing a transparent process is his top priority and the United States is paying especially close attention because U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati has said that they will not decide whether to bid on the 2026 World Cup until they see the process and believe it will be fair.