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Figo proposes expanding the World Cup to as many as 48 teams

Former Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo released his manifesto at a Wembley press conference today as he prepares to challenge Prince Ali Bin Hussein, Michael van Pragg and incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency of FIFA.

During his press conference, the ex-Barcelona and Real Madrid player stated he would like the World Cup format to be expanded to as many as 48 teams – with non-European clubs benefiting from a larger tournament.

“I believe we should consider proposals to expand the competition to a 40 or even a 48-team World Cup,” Figo said. “Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play. If this expansion were to take place, I believe that additional nations should come from non-European nations.”

Figo went on to say that every aspect of the sport needs to be analyzed and improved on; whether it be goal line technology, the introduction of sin bins for players guilty of unsporting behavior towards match referees or restoring the ‘old’ offside rule – where a player is judged offside whether directly involved with the play or not.

“I want to look at the calendar, the rules of the game, the format of the competitions, but all in a manner involving dialogue and consensus. I want football to keep up with the times. I want to review rule changes every four years and keep debate alive about introducing new technology in the game.”

MORE — Can Luis Figo and co. smash the Blatter system?

With his campaign slogan of #ForFootball, Figo focused on the importance of the game on his life and his desire to give something back to the sport as reasons for his candidacy.

“Football has been my passion since I was a boy,” he concluded. “I’ve been very lucky to have always been able to play and train from an early age.”

“Sadly, there are many children all over the world who are not afforded this privilege. My objective as FIFA president would be to guarantee that all boys and girls would have the same opportunities I was fortunate enough to have.”

“I feel an obligation to give something back to football after all it has given to me.”


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  1. Dean

    February 20, 2015 at 8:10 am

    I think it’s enevitable that FIFA will further expand the WC. I think 48 teams across 2 continents is a complete non starter.However I can see an increase to 40 teams happening sooner rather than later (UEFA have made a similar change to the Euros). It’s been talked about before, groups would increase to 5 teams with the top 2 still going through. Although it would mean an additional 32 games 12 stadia would still be enough & if 4 games were played each day the tournamnet would only need to be extended by 5 days. I’m not trying to sell the idea as I think the 32 team event works well but I do believe it will happen if not by 2022 then certainly by 2026.

  2. TheDuke

    February 19, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    IF CONCACAF and CONMEBOL merge they lose at least two World Cup places CAF and the AFC will make sure of it and UEFA doesn’t give a damn. My option for American competition would be one gold cup and one Copa America every four years and a Super Money Cup or whatever you want to call it with both groups played in whatever format you want. This benefits all confederations and doesn’t screw them over.

    • CTBlues

      February 19, 2015 at 11:31 pm

      If CONCACAF and CONMEBOL joined why do you think they would loose 2 WC places? If anything they should just combine the allocation they both have now to make a total of 8.

      • Dean

        February 20, 2015 at 8:30 am

        I like the idea of the 2 federations merging. If 8 qualyfing spots were retained Mex & US could be added to the Conmebol teams to create a super group of 12 teams. A seperate qualification competion could be held for the remainder of the CONCAFF teams with the eventual winner gaining automatic qualifaction together with the top 6 teams from the super group. the 7th placed team from the SG would then playoff against the runner up from CONCAFF qualyfing for the the final place.

        • CTBlues

          February 20, 2015 at 11:35 am

          That seems like a way that would go over better compared to the idea I was thinking of. You have like a minnows like stage where Canada and the Central American teams play with the top 2 move on. The Caribbean countries do the same but only the top team moves on. The third place team from the Can/CA group plays the runner up to the Caribbean group for a 4th team that is added to US, Mexico, and the CONMEBOL teams for a total of 16. You then split them up into four groups of four with the top 2 from each group going to the WC.

  3. Burnsey

    February 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    To hell with the World Cup…….the Euros is the tournament…….find a way to add Brazil and Argentina and Ignore everyone else….sure Mexico, Uruguay and maybe Columbia are attractive, but the New Zealands, Japan’s, and Costa Ricas are nothing more than TV revenue.

  4. Pakapala

    February 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    And this is the guy UEFA put their hope on to replace Blatter? Can we say same old politics?

    Oh wait forget that they (UEFA) can’t even agree on who to back up for FIFA presidency.

    • Dean

      February 20, 2015 at 7:47 am

      I don’t think Fifa are pinning their hopes on Figo. I think you will probably find that for the majority of the Europeon boards Prince Ali is the preferred candidate to challenge Blatter. I think Figo & Van Pragg running is only good news for Blatter as it will end up splitting the Uefa vote.

  5. CBF 1914-2014

    February 19, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Regardless of whether the WC expands or not, my strong preference is for the Americas to have eight WC places and for Mexico and the U.S. to go through the South American teams to qualify for the World Cup.

    If the U.S. ever expect to go beyond the WC quarterfinals, they have to learn to take on stronger oppositions on a consistent basis.

    With all that said I loved Luis Figo as a player and am certain he would be FIFA President one day. But if I had a vote, I believe Prince Ali Bin Hussein has the best vision for the Future of FIFA as outlined on the website.

    • CTBlues

      February 19, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      Would love to see a true Copa America every four years and the US having to play the South American teams to get to the WC.

  6. CTBlues

    February 19, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Current allocation for the current 32

    Europe gets 13
    Africa gets 5
    Asia ges 4.5
    South America gets 4.5
    North America gets 3.5
    Oceania gets .5

    Allocation for 40?

    Europe gets 13
    Africa gets 8
    Asia gets 5.5
    South America gets 6.5
    North America gets 6
    Oceania gets 1

    • Mysterious J

      February 19, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      There haven’t been 4 CONCACAF teams worthy of the World Cup EVER…expecting there to be 6 in the future is utterly ridiculous. Stay at 32 and reduce European places. Pretty much half of UEFA gets to play in their new waters down championship anyway…two more teams can stay home for the World Cup.

      • CTBlues

        February 19, 2015 at 8:19 pm

        I agree I was just trying to show how it might look if they increased the amount of teams without increasing the amount of European teams.

  7. miguel torres

    February 19, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Imagine how much more dynamic and goal-richer soccer would be if the foremost attacking player were allowed to be 1-2 feet ahead of the last defending player at the time of the pass. Also, instant replays (evaluated by off-the-field officials) of offside positions involving goals and of controversial penalty decisions should be instituted to prevent so many oversights by the refs on the field, which often critically affect the teams’ standings in important competitions. All of this would prolong a game for no more than 5-10 minutes and would go a long way in minimizing a sense of injustice suffered by soccer fans because of purported bad ref decisions.

  8. John

    February 19, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    A sin bin and the old offside rule are terrible ideas. But so is moving the World Cup to the winter, where it won’t help it’s growth in the USA, competiting with NFL Football, just a bad move. I bet Fox has to be pissed about this.

    • CTBlues

      February 19, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Why do you think they got the 2026 WC for free.

      • John

        February 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm

        Touche, but I didn’t see that news until after I commented. Now, how pissed are ESPN & NBC that because of FIFA’s corruption they don’t get to bid for 2026?

        • CTBlues

          February 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

          ESPN, Univision, and Rogers Media in Canada all released statements informing FIFA their displeasure.

  9. brn442

    February 19, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Obviously, Mr. Figo is pandering for non-UEFA votes, and good for him.

    In lieu of the bags of cash and graft that Blatter oversees, it’s the next best thing.

  10. StellaWasAlwaysDown

    February 19, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I think 32 is a good number. Letting more teams in will just water it down and push the time commitment of players as well as host cities even further. What is the point of the qualification tournaments then? I know CONCAF has beneffited somewhat from expansion, but there comes a point where you have to say no.

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