If it ain't broke, FIFA will still try to make more money from it.
World soccer's governing body unanimously voted to expand the men's World Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting with the 2026 edition, which doesn't yet have a host nation.
The World Cup has expanded three times before, most recently in 1998 when the field moved from 24 to 32 teams. The new format will have 16 groups of three teams each with the top two teams from each group moving to a 32-team knockout phase. Currently, and through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, there are eight groups of four teams with the top two teams from each group advancing to a 16-team knockout phase.
Progression of World Cup berths...— Paul Carr (@PaulCarr) January 10, 2017
Revenues for FIFA could jump by $1 billion with the 16 extra games.
The number of teams per confederation has not yet been set. The US' region, CONCACAF, currently gets three bids and a fourth team that goes to a playoff to qualify for the World Cup. That number could nearly double under the new format, which would greatly lessen the drama of qualifying for the US. The qualifying format in CONCACAF would also need a restructuring with the current six-team final qualifying round likely serving no purpose with six or more spots available to the region.
The US could also host the first 48-team tournament. With continental rotation playing a role in the selection of host nations, the US is among the favorites to host the 2026 tournament.