Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.
The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”
Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.
The merits of a 48-team World Cup (and sample draw)
There’s something in those arguments, but the gains will outweigh the losses across the world. In other words, we have to be careful that we aren’t living in an echo chamber that the political world would even find a bit goofy.
Consider New Zealand, by far the strongest team in its region, has not be assured a spot in the tournament unless it can win a playoff tie. Or great stories like Bob Bradley‘s Egypt, who was at the mercy of a home-and-home battle for a World Cup group despite going 6-0 in group play.
Look it’s easy to be selfish in these instances, but we are not likely to be dealing with the oft-cited “Tahiti in the 2013 Confederations Cup” scenario.
In fact, let’s consider how it would look. Let’s assume that the 16 groups of three teams still feature one seeded team and confederations remain separated.
UEFA will get 16 teams, and have one team per group. CONMEBOL goes up to six teams, with CONCACAF going to 6.5. Africa goes up to nine, while Asia moves to 8.5. Oceania gets one, presumably, with the hosts snaring an extra.
Using ELOratings.net and the FIFA ratings, here is who would be headed for the World Cup:
So, you’re getting more games and more meaningful games, each in their own individual television window. Even groups that seem clean cut — like Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Costa Rica — could be flipped on their ear by the end of the first match.
For what it’s worth, I would not end every match with penalty kicks and keep draws. I’d rather see extra time than an impetus for Greece to pack it inside its own 18 for 90 minutes.
But I believe we’d see something better from a 48-team tournament, and it would mostly end the days of, “Man I wish this list of stars was at the World Cup” (or at least make the list much smaller).
As for the “dud teams” involved, those countries get one less guaranteed game by the move to 3-team groups. And while in some ways qualifying would certainly suffer, consider the following scenarios. With CONMEBOL having 1.5 more spots, you’d see teams 9 and 10 alive longer in qualifying. That’s why it’s arguably an improvement for South America, who should’ve gone to a Hex-style format long ago.
What do you think? Are you bummed about the 48-team World Cup? Or is a lot of the furor rooted in a preference to dislike FIFA moves from the hop?
On Tuesday the FIFA council voted unanimously in favor of a 48-team World Cup from 2026 onwards as president Gianni Infantino got his wish.
The proposal is something which was a key part of his mandate when the Italian official won the FIFA presidential election in February 2016 as he aims to give smaller nations across the soccer world a chance to compete on the biggest stage.
Now, Infantino has his wish.
More details are emerging all the time from the FIFA council meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, but it has been confirmed that there will be 16 groups with consist of three teams each and the top two teams from each group will go through to a straight Round of 32 knockout.
That means there will be an increase from 64 to 80 games, which is an extra 16 games, and crucially there will still be just seven games for each team to play if they go all the way and become world champs. The tournament itself
The main difference is that Infantino and the council wanted to create more knockout games at the tournament and that’s now been confirmed with just two group games per team, and an extra round of straight-knockout games now rubber-stamped.
Off the back of UEFA expanding the European Championships to 24 teams for the first time at EURO 2016, there’s been plenty of opposition to this plan from FIFA as many say the quality of the tournament will suffer. That said, many nations around the world from smaller confederations will now see this as a great opportunity to reach the World Cup for the first time and it will freshen things up. There will be an extra four teams from both Africa and Asia, while an extra three teams from Europe will also make the tournament.
In truth, the more teams and games there are in the World Cup the more money FIFA will make.
Infantino’s argument is that the World Cup has expanded from 12 teams to 16 in 1966 and then to 24 teas in 1982 and then to the current 32-team format in 1998. With the popularity of the game continuing to grow across the globe, he believes now is the right time to expand the tournament.
The United States of America is the favorite to host the 2026 World Cup, the first with 48 teams, with Canada and Mexico both mooted as potential co-hosts with the U.S. if they don’t host it alone.
A decision could be delayed if some Council members demand to know exactly how many qualifying places each continent will get before agreeing to scrap the 32-team format. It has been successful, popular and profitable since 1998 and is locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.
The prize of 16 extra places, and the biggest increases to Africa and Asia, has “overwhelming” support from FIFA’s 211 member federations, Infantino has said.
Their promise of extra funding from Zurich could also be secured by FIFA’s forecast 20 percent rise in rights fees paid by broadcasters and sponsors.
“Financially, the 48-team format is the most appealing or successful simply because the sporting element is prevailing and every match is important,” Infantino said two weeks ago. “The decision should not be financially driven, neither in terms of revenue or costs … but the driver should really be the development of football and boosting football all over the world.”
World Cup champion Germany is not in favor. It argued that diluting the number of European and South American teams – which won all 20 titles since 1930 – could “strengthen the imbalance” seen at some tournaments.
“The (German soccer federation) fundamentally believe that the current 32-team format is the best option,” its president Reinhard Grindel said last week. Germany has no delegate at Tuesday’s meeting though Grindel is set to join the FIFA Council in May.
FIFA acknowledged the risk of lower standards in a research document sent to members last month, as first reported by The Associated Press.
The “absolute quality” of soccer, defined by high-ranked teams playing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA said, citing 10,000 tournament simulations made to reach that conclusion.
Still, Infantino promised voters more World Cup places and funding raises before his election last February.
FIFA expects $5.5 billion income tied to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, though 25 of 34 sponsorship slots are unsold. The research document predicted the equivalent of $6.5 billion revenue from a 48-team tournament in the “16×3” format, which would send two teams from each group to a new Round of 32 knockout bracket.