The number of competing teams at the 2016 World Cup will increase from 32 to 48. The decision was taken following a vote by world football’s governing body at its Zurich headquarters on Tuesday, 10 January. The proposal had been tabled by FIFA’s new president, Gianni Infantino.
The 2016 World Championship finals will have a scheme for 16 groups of three countries, with the top two from each groups proceeding to the knock-out stages. This means that the number of matches will go up from 64 to 80. The number of matches leading up to the finals will remain the same as in a 32-team World Cup, because there will be fewer group fixtures and more knock-out matches. The number of match days will also be the same: 32 days.
The sport’s interest should be key and any new World Cup scheme should help football move forward
"The KNVB is open to innovation of the World Cup and we understand that this is the desire of smaller nations within FIFA, where 211 countries are members," says KNVB Director of Operations Gijs de Jong. " The interest of the sport should be key and any new World Cup scheme should help football move forward."
"An expansion of the World Cup offers more countries the chance to qualify for the world championship finals, which is good for the development and experience of football worldwide. On the other hand, a new approach must not lead to more uninteresting games or a heavier burden for players; that would benefit no one. The charm and power of the World Cup should not succumb to economic interests."
In the coming period, FIFA will provide more details about its World Cup expansion plans. The KNVB will study the pros and cons of the scheme and discuss them with those involved in the organisation of Dutch football.