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A typical Fifa power and money grab?

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A typical Fifa money and power grab which would diminish the quality of the compeition was how critics of the organisation characterised its proposals for changes to the World Cup from 2026.   More moderate critics were concerned that Fifa was diluting its brand,  The tournament would be expanded from 32 to 48 countries, meaning that it will involve about a quarter of all Fifa nations.

The expanded tournament will feature 48 teams playing in 16 groups of three teams.  The top two teams in each group qualify for an extended knockout phase.   Though the number of matches played woud rise from 64 to 80, no team would play more than seven matches and the tournament would be completed over the same period as the current month-long version.

The original proposals have been modified so that there is more scope for European nations to qualify. The Scottish Football Association has, not surprisingly, welcomed the new arrangements.

Fifa expects that the new format will increase revenues by $1bn, with nearly half of that coming from television rights deals.  Fifa made a loss of $122m in 2015, for the first time in a decade, in large part because of 'unanticipated' legal fees.

The European Club Association, representing Europe's top clubs, said that the decision had been taken for political reasons rather than sporting ones.  They were opposed to any expansion on the grounds that it would increase player workloads.