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Luis Figo proposes idea of a 48-team FIFA World Cup instead of the present 32-team format

Rohan Menon
2.49K   //    20 Feb 2015, 09:43 IST
Luis Figo
FIFA Presidential Candidate Luis Figo speaks during the launch of his manifesto 'For Football' at the start of his presidential campaign on February 19, 2015 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Luis Figo, a man who was controversial as a player is set to do the same in the FIFA presidential election. The Portuguese legend is set to challenge the current leader Sepp Blatter. The part of Figo's speech that caught the most attention was changing the present World Cup format. He suggests expanding it from the present 32 team format to 48, splitting the tournament across two continents.

Increase the number of nations taking part in the World Cup

“I believe we should consider proposals to expand the World Cup from its current 32-team structure to a 40 or even 48-team competition," was what Figo was noted saying at Wembley as part of his speech for the presidential race.

His 40 team proposal just added a few more teams, but would essentially be held like the present World Cup, except for the fact that there would be 8 groups consisting of five teams each. This format would only extend the world cup by three or four days.

The 48 team event, on the other hand, makes the world cup completely different. According to his proposal, the 48 teams to enter the competition would be split into two groups of 24 each. The 2 groups would be playing concurrently on separate continents.

There would be a final knock-out stage in one country, which is mostly identical to the present last-16 stage of the tournament as it currently exists. This method also would only end up adding three to four days to the current world cup schedule.

"My starting point in this debate is that by increasing the number of teams participating in the World Cup, we not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world in the greatest football competition in the world, but also enable FIFA to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally" was Figo's starting pitch.

Time to give back to the world of football everything it gave me: Figo

Some of the other ideas proposed by the Legendary midfielder included the abolishing of the "triple punishment", further development of goal line technology, and bringing in a concept taken from rugby known as the sin bins, wherein the player who is abusive to the referee is sent off for a given duration of time before he can be reintroduced to the team, Figo went on to give his view on the areas where the beautiful sport needs to be improved.

He later on said, "Football has been my passion since I was a child. I was very lucky and extremely fortunate to have the chance to play and get training from a very young age. Unfortunately, this opportunity does not exist for most children in the world.”

He added, “My focus as FIFA President will be to make sure more children, boys and girls, get the same opportunity I had. Better infrastructures, more training. It is time for me to give back to the world of football everything it gave me."

Figo along with Michael van Praag and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein are the candidates set to oppose Sepp Blatter for the elections set to be held on May 29. Blatter though is favoured to win the election again as he has the majority support from Asia and Africa.

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