FIFA is considering changing the upcoming World Cup tournament in 2026 after witnessing a thrilling group stage in Qatar, according to a report by Reuters.
An expanded tournament was initially considered by international football’s governing body, that would witness 16 groups of three teams in the first group phase, with two teams progressing.
The joint Canada, Mexico, and United States tournament could now follow a different design as FIFA fears that the matches could be dull to fans, as 48 teams would be reduced to 32 after the group phase.
According to Reuters, FIFA Council will decide on alternative formats; two are in the works.
The first format would have 12 groups of four teams, where the top two would progress along with the best third-placed teams.
The other alternative is to split the tournament into two halves of 24, each featuring six groups of four teams, and the winner of each half would meet in the final stage.
FIFA’s revamp of the competition has drawn backlash from commentators , who say that fair play could be threatened as teams could play matches to their benefit.
“It’s an issue that has been raised,” said FIFA council member Victor Montagliani regarding cheating in the 2026 tournament.
Under the current system, Qatar’s World Cup has been dubbed as one of the most thrilling tournaments in modern history.
The changes being considered are aimed at raising revenue, as more games would lead to more money from broadcast licensing, which brings in “90% of FIFA’s revenue,” according to Reuters.
Before Qatar’s World Cup tournament kicked off, FIFA revealed that the Middle Eastern World Cup earned $7.5-billion in rights and sponsorship revenue, $1bn more than Russia’s 2018 tournament.