FIFA could extend the World Cup to 48 teams in 2022, ahead of schedule

FIFA President Gianni Infantino at his World Cup press conference on Friday. (Francisco Seco / Associated Press)

MOSCOW – FIFA remains open to expanding the number of teams in the World Cup by 50 percent in 2022, four years ahead of schedule, the president of the World Cup said on Friday. international football organization.

The organization will continue to discuss the matter with the host country, Qatar, and "calmly and silently" decide whether to grow the tournament to 48 teams of 32, said FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

During a press conference in Luzhniki Stadium, two days before the final between France and Croatia, Infantino seemed optimistic with the idea and said: "Quality is certainly there … There is nothing more powerful than participating in an event like the World Cup to boost football in a country. "

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Infantino also confirmed that the 2022 tournament will begin on November 21, and the final will be played on December 18.

FIFA had already approved the expansion for the 2026 tournament, which will be shared by the United States, Mexico and Canada. However, the growth of the countryside in 2022 is problematic because Qatar is such a small nation. Qatar organizers have expressed concern about organizing a larger tournament. The country is in the process of building or renovating several stadiums. A 48-team World Cup would add 16 games to the calendar, to 80 out of 64.

Defenders of a larger event point to the addition of teams that might not otherwise qualify in a smaller field. This year, for example, the Netherlands, Italy, Chile, Ghana, Cameroon, Ireland and the United States failed to do so. Opponents see a diluted competition with numerous equipment unsuitable for the world stage.

Even with 48 teams, less than 25 percent of countries eligible for FIFA would participate, said Infantino.

"It's still a reasonable number looking forward," he added.

Political response

Infantino did not directly answer a question about how he reconciles his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the political and human rights issues affecting the host country.

"Football can not solve all the problems in the world," said Infantino. "Football can not change the past, but football can have an impact in the future, maybe some people who are making important decisions for our planet could take some advice or at least look at what we are trying to do in football and maybe we can inspire ourselves or at least try to address these problems, we have to wait to learn from what happened without denying what happened. "

FIFA has worked closely with the Russian government and the local organizing committee in organizing an event that has received good reviews from participants, fans and journalists.

"There are many injustices in the world," said Infantino. "There are many things that we are not happy that happen in the world, not in a country, not in a region, not in an area, but in the whole world." We have to try to work, speak and change for the good whenever we can. But in the World Cup, we are focusing on football, we are focusing on celebrating football.

"One of the things we lack in the world, more and more, is the ability to talk to one another, to have a dialogue, which is the basis for solving some of these problems. discussion, or even understanding or a little respect, we can not go anywhere, if football and the World Cup can help to open some channels, open some discussions, help decision makers to start talking to the world among themselves, and realizing that people living everywhere are living in worse conditions, we have done something. "

[Opinion: The real World Cup loser will be the Russian people]

After a new revision

The badistant refereeing system for video, presented at the World Cup by For the first time, it has been "extremely clear and extremely positive," said Infantino. "It's accepted, it's working, it's working well … It makes football clearer, more transparent."

Through the semifinals, FIFA said that 140 moves were reviewed through VAR, 19 were formally reviewed and 16 decisions changed "from a wrong decision to a correct decision". [19659019] VAR has improved the accuracy of the office from 95 percent to 99.32 percent, said Infantino. However, the VAR is used only to check goals, penalties, straight red cards and wrong identity.

Infantino said that VAR has helped keep players honest because cameras see almost everything. Red cards for violent behavior have decreased considerably, largely, he said, because someone is always watching. VAR has also put an end to disputes over the offside in the objectives. "It's over," said Infantino.

"Today it is difficult to think about the World Cup without VAR," he said. "It has been a fairer competition."

Security Issues

FIFA will consider whether further efforts are needed to "protect the health of players" in the wake of multiple incidents in which players suffered head injuries and returned to action, said Infantino .

"Concussions are a very serious issue that we take very seriously," he said. "That's why we have evaluation, recommendation and expert advice, we can do more, of course."

After a collision with the Belgian Eden Hazard in the semifinals, Blaise Matuidi from France underwent a brief evaluation and received field help. He returned moments later, but it lasted only a minute and he fell to the ground, needing help and a substitute.

Next, Matuidi did not have a concussion diagnosed, which, according to FIFA guidelines, would have marginalized him. for at least six days. Such judgments, however, are made by individual teams, not FIFA.

In the group stage, Nordin Amrabat of Morocco was hospitalized and suffered memory loss after a head-on clash with Iran, but he played five days later against Portugal. [19659028] "This is another alarming example that a player is in danger," said FifPro, the global union of players at that time. "Amrabat returned to action too early according to medical guidelines." Four years after the debacle of the last World Cup, where several players did not receive adequate attention, football has not progressed enough in the management of the concussion. repeated to implement world-clbad safety standards have been overlooked. "

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