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(The Guardian) - José Mourinho has come out in favour of a 48-team World Cup finals as the prospect of that substantially expanded tournament heads closer to reality
Gianni Infantino made a commitment to increase the number of competing nations by 50% as part of his platform in the Fifa presidential election and Mourinho believes it will improve the competition. The decision has proven controversial elsewhere, however, with the German FA this week coming out against the proposals. The Football Association, meanwhile, is understood to accept the expansion as an inevitability; the Fifa council will vote on the plans in Zurich on Tuesday.
“I’m totally in favour,” Mourinho said to Fifa’s website. “As a club manager, if the expansion meant more games, less holidays and less pre-season for players, I would say no. But it’s important for critics to analyse and understand that expansion doesn’t mean more matches.”
One of the proposals for the restructuring of the World Cup would involve 16 groups of three teams, with only two matches per group before a knockout round of 32. The Manchester United manager believes this is the right structure for developing smaller nations and heightening excitement.
“This way, the two group matches are crucial, then the knockout stage is next which brings even more emotion,” Mourinho said. “Teams with less potential and experience will probably play two matches and go home. But they would do so having improved and gained experience on the pitch.”
The expansion plan is expected to be approved at Tuesday’s meeting of the 37-member Fifa council, which includes Infantino and also David Gill, the former Manchester United chief executive now a Fifa vice-president. The English FA is understood to have been happy with the current 32-team tournament but sees an expansion as a fait accompli. Instead of opposing the plans, it seems set to use any influence to try to negotiate the terms of the tournament. Specifics, for example the number of places allocated to European teams, will not be decided at Tuesday’s meeting.