FIFA’s decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams will make the tournament more competitive, according to Portugal manager Fernando Santos.
Portugal will be hoping to make the jump from the European Championship winner to a World Cup winner for the first time in their history. Portugal have never won the World Cup, and it looks like the task will be made even more difficult in the coming years. FIFA recently announced the decision to expand at the World Cup from the 2026 edition. Rather than having to comprehend 32 teams, winners will have to overcome 48 teams.
While several nations have opposed the decision, Santos feels that the World Cup will be more competitive as a result. FIFA have acknowledged that the date for the World Cup cannot be expanded anymore. They are planning to hold the World Cup in a similar timeframe despite the increase in the number of teams. One of the ways to do so is by reducing the number of group matches.
Instead of eight groups of four teams, there will be 16 groups of three teams. The reduction in group matches will allow the tournament to hold more knock out stages, which will start with 32 teams. Santos says that it is one of the crucial elements that could make the tournament more competitive.
“We must avoid being too dramatic. If this expansion meant an increase in the number of games (played during the tournament) things would be more complicated, but as it’s not the case, I’m clearly in favour of it.The expansion can even bring more competitiveness because the groups will have three instead of four teams and you’ll advance quicker to the knock-out matches. Some people will always say that an expanded format doesn’t bring more quality, but the fact is that these tournaments, above all the World Cup, are often marked by the absence of good teams,” said Santos.