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New FIFA 48 – team format: Europeans sad, Africans happy

New FIFA President,  Gianom Infantino easily got through his pet idea of increasing the World Cup slot from 32 to 48 with effect from 2026 edition of the World Cup when a recent FIFA Ruling Council unanimously voted for the proposal.
But it promptly elicited stiff criticisms mainly from European members who blasted the plan as “politically and money driven” that would eventually be detrimental to the world football show piece.
“It will dilute competitiveness of the tournament and therefore enjoyment of the fans” one European group protested.
However, while Europeans demurred and grumbled African and Asian members hailed it.
Nigerian football personalities, including ex-internationals, heartily welcomed the development which is bound to increase the slots for African teams.
The president of Zimbabwe Football Association (ZFA), Philip Chiyangwa, gleed; “it is good because is about accommodating more teams from Africa”.
A secret FIFA projection expects the 48-team format to bring in over 8640 million above the revenue expected from Russia 2018 World Cup.
Below is evolution of World Cup format since  1930 -:
Evolution of World Cup format
1930:   The first World Cup final kicked off with 13 teams in Uruguay, including four European nations – Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia.
1934:   Expanded to 16 teams for the tournament in Italy, after a qualifying stage for the first time.
1938:   Only 15 teams took part in France after Austria, which had just been annexed by Nazi Germany, withdrew.
1950:   World Cup returned after World War II – the previous two editions having been cancelled – with 13 teams competing in Brazil.
1954:   Hosted by Switzerland, the tournament returned to the i6-team format.
1958:    In Sweden, format unchanged in a tournament in which Pele won the first of Ms three World Cups and France striker Just Fontaine is the top scorer with 13 goals, a record which still stands.
1970:   World Cup in Mexico is one of firsts – introduction of substitutes (two) during a match; red and yellow cards and tournament televised in colour, Format unchanged.
1982:   World Cup in Spain witnessed a small revolution with the passage from 16 to 24 teams and 52 matches played.
1986:   This edition in Mexico won by Diego Maradona’s Argentina introduced a knockout round of last 16 and quarter-finals.
1994:   Football continues to modernise with 147 participating in qualifiers and Africa gaining a third team in the final in the US.
1998: The tournament organised in France moves to 32 teams 174 teams participated in qualifiers.
2002:   For the first time the World Cup was jointly hosted by two countries – Japan and South Korea. Brazil won for a fifth time.
2010: The first World Cup hosted on the African continent Format unchanged.
Courtesy: AFP

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