FIFAhas announced that it will seek to to expand the number of World Cup finalists to 36 teams in 2006.

The recommendation came after a seven hour meeting in Zurich, but will need to be ratified decision on June 28 at an executive committee meeting in Paris.

‘In principle, 36 teams is acceptable, but organizers and confederation presidents have to find an adequate calendar that will respond to the expanded field and the time frame in which it is possible to conduct a World Cup,’ FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was believed to be opposed to the expansion, said.

FIFA did not discuss where the additional teams would come from, although South America, which lost a half-place in the Cup to CONCACAF, and proposed the measure, looks set to benefit.

The 2006 World Cup will be held in Germany, where organizers have indicated they would be able to accomodate an increase in participating countries. The most likely solution would be to play 9 groups of four teams, with the group winners being joined by the seven best runners-up in the last 16.