FIFA President Gianni Infantino wants to reconsider the planned format for the 2026 World Cup and possibly continue to use groups of four.
"After this World Cup and the success of the groups with four teams, we have to discuss it again," said the 52-year-old at a press conference in Doha: "You didn't know who would advance until the last minute of the game.
That was incredible."
Originally, 16 groups of three were planned for the World Cup, which has been expanded to 48 teams in the USA, Mexico and Canada. Infantino now brought twelve groups of four into play as an alternative.
As a result of the inflation, he generally expects 50 percent more income.
In the cycle before the Qatar World Cup, the world association had already made a turnover of 7.5 billion euros and thus achieved an increase of one billion euros compared to the previous World Cup cycle up to 2018.
He thinks that thanks to the 2026 World Cup, “football in North America will boom,” said Infantino: “We are optimistic about the power of football.
We are convinced that football can also become number one in North America.
Maybe number two first and then number one over time.” Many “attractions” are planned for the fans.
He expects around 5.5 million fans to travel to the 2026 World Cup.
"It's not about banning something"
Infantino also commented on the "One Love" bandage and justified the attitude of the world football association in the debate at the World Cup in Qatar with the existing rules.
"It's not about banning something, it's about adhering to the rules," said the 52-year-old Swiss at a press conference in ar-Rayyan on Friday.
“Soccer is played on the soccer field.
Everyone can express their opinion, but when you step onto the pitch we have to respect football.
That's nothing new.” It's about protecting football.
The German national team and other top European teams wanted to appear in Qatar with the "One Love" armband as a symbol of tolerance and diversity.
However, FIFA prohibited this at very short notice and threatened sporting sanctions.
Because the associations followed the FIFA instructions, they were also accused of giving in to Infantino.
According to reports, the world association had not given a binding statement on how to use the bandage before the tournament.
When asked about the lack of support from European countries such as Denmark or Germany for his intended re-election, Infantino said: “211 countries worldwide are represented in FIFA.
I am very grateful and proud of these more than 200 associations that support me.
I also thank the others.” He is proud that there are discussions.
“Of course there are also different concerns, cultures and perspectives.
As FIFA we have to take care of everyone, we are a global organisation.”
In office until 2031?
Infantino also stated that he could remain in office until 2031 if he were re-elected twice more.
During consultations in the council of the world football association in Qatar on Friday, it was made clear "that I am in my first term," said the Swiss. He has been in charge of FIFA since February 2016.
Next March, the 52-year-old will stand for re-election unopposed at the FIFA Congress in Kigali.
Then his second term would begin, Infantino said.
According to the statutes, the FIFA President can be elected for a maximum of three terms of four years each.
According to Infantino, the first three years from early 2016 to the summer of 2019 do not count as terms of office.
He took over the presidency from Joseph Blatter, who was elected in May 2015 and resigned shortly thereafter.
Infantino was confirmed in office in Paris in 2019.
The FIFA President is always elected in the year after the men's World Cup.
Next Club World Cup with 32 teams
Infantino also announced that the next men's FIFA Club World Cup will be held in Morocco in a month and a half.
In 2025, the previous mini-tournament is to be expanded from seven to 32 teams for the first time.
Due to the enlarged field of participants, the tournament should “really feel like a world championship”.
So far, the six continental champions and the host nation's champions are in attendance.
Details for the first edition in 2025 with 32 teams as well as the host and the date still have to be discussed and decided, Infantino said.
The Club World Cup in a month and a half from February 1st to 11th with Champions League winner Real Madrid as the European representative will be one of the last editions in the old format.
Originally, a new tournament with 24 teams should have taken place in China in the summer of 2021.
Due to the corona-related postponement of the EM 2020 and the Copa America by one year, the reformed tournament was also postponed.
In addition, the plans for the new format with more teams had been suspended for the time being.
The FIFA Council also decided that, for the first time, a Club World Cup would be organized for women footballers.
Details have yet to be decided.