UEFA not happy about FIFA’s proposals to expand World Cup

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA is not happy about the way FIFA is pushing through plans to expand the 2026 World Cup.

Amid FIFA floating different scenarios in the media, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin aimed a barb at soccer’s governing body on Friday.

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“I read different ideas every day, so it is hard to say which one is the real one, if any,” Ceferin, a FIFA vice president, said at a news conference after a UEFA executive committee meeting.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was elected in February on a campaign promise to add eight nations for a 40-team World Cup. He then suggested 48 teams with an opening playoff round that would send 16 teams home after one game.

This week, FIFA suggested a preferred 48-team format of groups of three teams in a letter to FIFA Council members ahead of their Jan. 9-10 meeting in Zurich.

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Asked how many of the 48 entries Europe wanted, Ceferin said the lack of clarity in how FIFA proposed to allocate slots to its six confederations was one of the problems.

“When FIFA presents us some serious thing and not just articles and interviews then we can, of course, answer concretely,” said Ceferin, who did not commit UEFA to supporting an increase from the 32-team format used since 1998.

UEFA’s unease about the process suggests FIFA’s target of a decision on Jan. 10 might be missed. The next option would likely by early May in Manama, Bahrain.

Progress could be made this week when the confederations’ general secretaries meet in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Club World Cup.