Luis Figo
Luis Figo launches FIFA Presidential Campaign Manifesto at Wembley StadiumReuters

Former Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo says that he will try to increase the number of teams in the  World club from 32 to "40 or even 48" if he gets elected as the new FIFA president in the forthcoming elections on 19 May.

The 42-year-old Portuguese, who has previously worked as a FIFA official, announced on 28 January that he will be going up against current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and Dutch football association chairman Michael van Praag in the elections taking place at the FIFA congress in Zurich.

And Figo, unveiling his manifesto at Wembley Stadium in London on Thursday, says that he will try to extend the teams in the FIFA World Cup if he manages to win the election.

While one of his proposals will see the World Cup consisting of 40+ teams with an additional two groups, the other will see the tournament split into two 24-team competitions that will be played in two different continents, followed by the knockout stages in one nation.

"I believe we should consider proposals to expand the competition to a 40 or even 48 team World Cup. Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play," said Figo, according to Reuters, insisting that the additional teams should come from non-European nations.

"If this expansion were to take place I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations."

"We not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world, but also enable Fifa to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally."

Apart from increasing the number of teams in the World Cup, Figo's has also pledged to distribute half of FIFA's wealth – $2.5 billion (£1.63 billion) -- among member associations to improve football at the grassroot levels.

Furthermore, the 2001 World Player of the Year has also proposed to reduce FIFA's reserve funds from $1.5 billion (£971 million) to $500 million (£325 million), redistributing the $1 billion (£650 million) surplus among 209 national federations.

"After many conversations with football leaders, one of the consistent themes fed back to me is the way FIFA currently distributes revenues to its member associations is very inefficient and ineffective -- especially for developing football across all associations," added Figo.

"FIFA belongs to its member associations and it is only natural that FIFA's revenues and reserves are distributed back to them directly."

"The impact of my proposals would mean between $8m-$10m being distributed to each member association across a four-year period."

"If done in the right way, with a clearly defined strategy that is centrally audited and monitored, this investment will radically enhance football opportunities for boys and girls and directly benefit all of FIFA's 209 Member Associations."

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