Fifa is discussing the expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams from 2026 – but a final decision has been deferred until after Thursday’s executive committee meeting.
The committee discussed the increase on Thursday as part of a wider reform package – just hours after two more senior members were arrested in the lobby of the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich.
Fifa representaives from Asia and Africa were understood to be strongly in favour of the idea. The idea had also been mooted by Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino, a candidate for the Fifa presidency.
Wolfgang Niersbach, the German Fifa executive committee member, said the main focal point of the meeting was a “very comprehensive reform package”.
He confirmed that the idea of expanding the World Cup was heavily supported by African and Asian members of the ex-co and would be returned to administrators for “further consideration”.
The change is being seen as an attempt to appease those confederations who feel Uefa currently has too many guaranteed places at the 32-team tournament. Uefa will have 14 places at the next World Cup in Russia (including the hosts), up to 10 more than the next best-represented confederation. Oceania, with only half a place allocated, currently has no guaranteed place.
At present Africa has five places, Asia four and a half, Europe 13, North and Central America three and a half, South America four and a half, Oceania half a place and one is automatically allocated to the host nation. The World Cup was expanded from 24 teams to 32 in 1994 and further expansion would benefit those who are currently under-represented.