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For those who care about soccer/football... the World Cup is expanding, starting with the 2026 edition. 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar... grumble) stay at the 32-team format.

The current format, 32 teams and eight groups of four teams, started in 1998. Going to 48 teams is expected to make the group stages go to 16 groups of three teams apiece.

Thoughts:

Money grab, pure and simple. FIFA treats countries and football supporters like cash machines. This was expected, and honestly, I think it's ludicrous.

I think the level of football is going to SUCK during the group stages: sure, you're going to have the occasional good match but with 16 extra nations--16 nations who would normally be sitting at home because, you know, they didn't do enough in qualifying to qualify, they'll be there getting their butts handed to it. Imagine if, say, New Zealand actually qualified and drew--*gulp*--Germany? Game over. Why play it? That's a 5-0 match by halftime. That being said....

One healthy, multi-goal win in the group stage, and you're pretty much into the knockout phase of the competition. Takes away quite a bit of the drama of the last day of the group stage, doesn't it?

And to get all the group-stage matches in during those two weeks before the knockout phase, you're going to have three and sometimes four matches on TV a day. I mean, I like football--hell, I LOVE football--but that's fatigue on one's eyes. I'm the same way with American football: by 7 p.m. on a Sunday, I'm pretty much done.

Anyone want to chime in?
 

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I pretty much agree with all of that -- although of course New Zealand qualified in 2010 and actually showed well; three draws, against Italy, Slovenia, and Paraguay, so nothing to be ashamed of there.  Scored against Slovenia and Italy.

But yes, it seems too much.

Another probably-unintended consequence is that it will be more difficult for many nations to host; small countries which are hard-pressed to host 32 teams will have an even harder time with 48.  Good news for us here in the US, since we could do it easily.

(I still think every WC should be in Turkey, and every Olympics in Greece. Eliminate all the corruption in site selection and the need to build new facilities all the time. Turkey is a fine footballing nation with decent infrastructure.)
 

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They should do it like the NCAA B-ball tourney (well, like it was until they added a few play-in games): 64 teams, single-elimination, first two rounds in 8 different locations, next 2 rounds in 4 locations, and final 2 rounds in 1 location.
 

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Well pretty much all professional sports is about the money grab, FIFA isn't really unique in that. Its all about money. Soccer, football, basketball, etc.

One one hand I like the idea of getting teams a chance that would not otherwise have one. Give them a shot so to speak.
Sure, there might be some blowouts early, but I have seen those in finals with big teams too. I am going to enjoy seeing more teams. Might just be me though.

I am one that likes watching early rounds in the sports I do watch. Like if I watch Federer/Murray/Djoko beat a qualifier to a pulp in a first round grand slam. I still think its fun to watch, not for the beat down, but for the opponent having a shot. Being out there. As I don't follow a lot of sports, really only tennis and soccer for the most part, I am not only interested in the big matches. Like the Olympics, I watch the stuff nobody else will watch if there is a story.

I know folks that only start watching tennis say the 2nd week of a grand slam. Or whatever is the similar thing with football and basketball. Don't know those as I don't watch them. I am one that watches from the first ball to the last ball usually. I guess for those other folks, they can just skip the early matches and then jump in when its down to the number it used to be. With soccer usually one picks the teams one wants to watch, although there are some that probably watch all of them. I know my dad and others in the family try. But then they are soccer crazy germans.  :p
 

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Okay, NogDog, thinking about your 64-team proposal --

So the top-seeded teams might be Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and Chile, if they based it on the current FIFA rankings (which I know are often considered dodgy):

http://www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/

-and they would play the bottom seeds of Uzbekistan, Cameroon, Montenegro, and UAE. Cameroon and Montenegro have had their moments, so it would be a little sad to see them go one-and-done, but that's life . . .

The middle teams, who would become the 8-9 seeds, would be from around USA at 28 through Iran, Ukraine, Austria, Northern Ireland, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire. Those would indeed be pretty competitive matches, I think.

It would be an interesting way to do it. Some of the teams which often get off to slow starts (Brazil, Italy) would have to be on their game right away or else get ousted by, say, Serbia . . .
 
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