Jean-Baptiste Sarrazin 19:52 pm, May 11, 2023

FIFA unveiled last March the new format of the next World Cup, which will take place in three countries: the United States, Mexico and Canada with 48 teams against 32 previously. Exceptional guest of "Europe 1 Sport", the former number 2 of Fifa Jérôme Valcke decried this new format.

The World Cup transformed. 48 nations, 12 pools of four: the 2026 World Cup co-hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada will inaugurate a new format jumping from 64 to 104 the number of matches of the flagship competition. Exceptional guest of Europe 1 Sport (every evening from 20 pm to 23 pm live on Europe 1), former FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke, in office from 2008 to 2015, opposed this reform. "I was not for increasing the number of teams," reacted spontaneously the former number 2 of world football.

But the latter was nevertheless understanding of this reform: "It's a totally different concept that can give more teams access to this competition and limits the fact that it is 50% always the same teams that participate, that it is almost the same winners." More "small nations" will be eligible to win a qualifying ticket for the event. The new formula will thus make it possible to have more African representatives. Indeed, nine African countries (or ten in case of playoff) will now be able to claim a qualification for the World Cup. Europe will increase from 13 to 16 qualifying places.

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"My position"

More teams so more matches. The semi-finalists, for example, will play a total of eight games, up from seven. In addition to this increase in the number of matches, Jérôme Valcke also criticizes World Cups being played in several countries. While the 2022 World Cup took place in only one country, Qatar, the 2026 World Cup will be played in three countries: "I thought that the idea of having a World Cup in one place was a fundamental idea. I was for the idea of saying: 'I'm going to Brazil, I'm going to see the World Cup but I'm also going to discover a country. I'm going to South Africa, I'm going to see the World Cup, but I'm going to discover a country,'" said the former FIFA secretary general. "So I wasn't for two countries, but that was my position," he continued.

But this co-organization for 2026 is based on a major financial argument that FIFA does not hide. The 2026 World Cup must be the one of all commercial records for the Zurich-based organization, while the manna of the men's tournament represents the bulk of the revenue that it then redistributes to its 211 member federations. In mid-February, even before approving the format, FIFA expected a jump in its revenues to $ 11 billion (10.25 billion euros) over the 2023-2026 cycle, 44.7% more than in 2019-2022.