Is a World Cup with 48 teams a good idea?

As of 2026 the number of teams participating in the World Cup will rise from 32 to 48, the international football association Fifa decided at a meeting on Tuesday. The expansion of the competition to mammoth proportions is the result of the unbridled greed of Fifa officials, some commentators rail. Others see certain advantages to the move.

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Basler Zeitung (CH) /

Insatiable football officials

The XXL edition of the World Cup is the result of greedy football officials getting their way, writes the Basler Zeitung:

“The expansion of the World Cup is about power, influence and money. A lot of money, incredible amounts. A 600 million euro boost in revenues alone already beckons as of 2026 if the monster tournament is expanded from 64 to 80 games. Fans around the world are rightly incensed by Fifa's boundless greed. The world football association would do well to state as clearly as possible whether the increased revenues will really flow into the coffers of the football clubs and not into the pockets of officials. A championship with 48 teams will further water down the quality of the games; we just experienced this in a boring way with the 2016 European championship in France. In the future it will be impossible for little Switzerland to host such a mammoth World Cup.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

More teams, more passion

World Cups are less about world-class football than about passion, Tagesspiegel reflects:

“Sixteen countries more from all over the world can take part in the most important competition. Even Oceania will no doubt become a fixed participant at the start of the competition. So naturally people from great football nations like Germany can say: the quality will suffer, the standards will be lowered - as was the case at the European championship in France last year. But on the other hand that championship also showed that when the incentive to participate in such a tournament increases, even smaller nations redouble their efforts to qualify. … The same may happen now with the 48th World Cup, with heart-warming teams from Papua New Guinea or Fiji. Perhaps it's time we Germans climbed down from our top-quality high horse. World Cups don't set the standards in international football. … World Cups are about passion and the enthusiasm of the fans.”