Increase to 40 teams and the likehihood of co-hosted World Cup finals are on Fifa's agenda.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino has again reiterated his support for a 40-team World Cup in 2026, which could be co-hosted by several countries.
Infantino’s remarks confirm that Fifa would not rule out a joint bid by the United States, Canada and Mexico – all of whom are interested in staging the 2026 finals. The CONCACAF region is expected to host the 2026 edition for the first time since 1994, when 24 teams played in the U.S.
In his presidential election campaign, Infantino supported expanding the tournament and hosting across a region. While that offer was seen as an inducement to attract votes from the Asian and African regions, it is clear that the Swiss regards increasing the number of finalists as the next logical step for the World Cup.
“These two topics will certainly be on the table for discussion,” Infantino said, looking ahead to a meeting of the FIFA Council on Oct. 13-14 in Zurich.
Asked about a potential U.S.-Canada-Mexico project for 2026, The Fifa chief noted that Uefa, with whom Infantino worked previously as secretary general, voyed in favout of staging the 2020 European Championship in 13 different host nations.
“So, there is, I would say, no limit to whatever is good for football,” Infantino said. “We will see, but it’s true that CONCACAF did not have the World Cup for a long time.”
The 2026 World Cup hosting vote is set for 2020, with Fifa member federations choosing from a shortlist drafted by the ruling council.
“For the moment I think everything is open,” Infantino said. “My opinion on the 40 teams has not changed.”
While at Uefa, Infantino also helped oversee an expanded Euro 2016 with 24 teams for the first time instead of the previous 16-team format. While the 24-team format was regarded as unwieldy and the group stages in particular were deemed to have suffered as a spectacle, it was welcomed by many as it provided the opportunity for a number of countries, notably Iceland and Albania, to qualify for the finals of a major tournament for the first time.
“We have seen it again at the Euro in France with eight more teams, what kind of enthusiasm this generated in many, many countries,” he said. “We need to realize that these kind of events are more than just a competition, they are real social events in the whole world.”