|48 teams feature in World Cup 2026 |
JELANI BECKLES Wednesday, January 11 2017
FORMER national footballers Clayton Morris and Angus Eve have contrasting views on the decision by FIFA to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cup to 48 teams at the 2026 edition.
Yesterday, in Zurich, Switzerland FIFA members voted unanimously for the change from 32 to 48 teams. Since the World Cup began in 1930 the number of teams have increased throughout the years but the 16-team jump is the largest in the history of the tournament. At the inaugural competition in 1930, 13 countries competed, while 16 lined up in 1934, 15 in 1938 and 13 in 1950. From 1954 to 1978, 16 teams participated in the top football tournament, before 24 teams battled for World Cup glory between 1982 and 1994. Since the 1998 edition 32 nations have played in the World Cup.
In the current format, the CONCACAF region has three and a half spots in the World Cup, but the increase in teams may see CONCACAF getting six and a half spots in the World Cup.
Former Trinidad and Tobago Strike Squad captain Clayton Morris likes the move by FIFA to expand the tournament. He said, “I think it is a good incentive because every player’s dream is to play in a World Cup. They are giving everybody the opportunity to aspire to the highest level. “ Morris believes more countries will be driven to qualify for the World Cup. “Other countries which at the moment may be lower than TT in the FIFA standings would be all excited just as we are, which means they would step up their preparation, I know everybody would want to be on that stage so that makes it even tougher for us to get there and to maintain our level above them.” Asked if the standard of the World Cup will drop with more teams participating Morris explained, “It all depends on the domestic leagues in the different countries, if they keep to that (high) level I can’t see the World Cup standard dropping because that is what everybody would be aspiring to meet.” Morris hopes the next generation of players would be inspired to became footballers and play at the World Cup. The former Strike Squad captain stated that with the increase in teams TT should qualify for every World Cup from 2026 if proper planning is implemented like CONCACAF giants such as Mexcio, USA and Costa Rica.
Eve does not agree with the decision by FIFA. Eve stated, “I think it is kind of ridiculous, the players have so much football to play right now in respective clubs.
It tends to waterdown the tournament because by the time they reach the World Cup most of the players are usually tired by that time, the better players.” Eve, who believes it is a money making initiative by FIFA, said if more teams participate at the World Cup some of the countries will not be able to compete with the top football nations.
“To me the World Cup is a showpiece, you don’t want to waterdown something like that, it is every four years just as the Olympics. There is a qualifying mark that you have to get if you have to run in the Olympics so the standard of competitiveness is always maintained.
“I don’t think six CONCACAF teams could compete in a World Cup, I don’t think six African teams could compete in a World Cup. You are looking for the best teams to play so the competition would be competitive.” Eve believes there is talent in TT to qualify for future World Cups but the problem lies at the administrative level. “From what I am seeing from TT , I think we definitely have ability, I think we have young players with a lot of ability and they are getting good experience on the outside (foreign leagues), but I have always said that our problem in TT is administrative.”