BOGOTA, Oct 3 (Reuters) - FIFA president Gianni Infantino, whose election promises included expanding the World Cup to 40 teams, proposed an even larger tournament with 48 teams on Monday.
However, he suggested that 16 of those teams would go home after just one knockout match, and the remainder of the tournament would be played, as now, with a 32-team group stage, followed by a knockout phase.
Infantino, speaking during an event at Bogota’s Sergio Arboleda university, said a final decision would be taken by the FIFA Council in January, Colombian media reported. A FIFA spokesman confirmed that the reports were accurate.
“These are ideas to find the best solution, we will debate them this month and we will decide everything by 2017,” Infantino was quoted as saying. “They are ideas which we put forward to see which one is the best.”
Infantino said his suggestion was to have a preliminary knockout round involving 32 teams played in the host country, with the 16 winners reaching the group stage. A further 16 seeded teams would get a bye into the group stage, he said.
Infantino was elected FIFA chief on Feb. 26 to replace Sepp Blatter, who received a six-year ban for ethics violations. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ken Ferris)