The historic vote has been cast by the 37-member strong FIFA Council on Tuesday and the verdict is out: Yes, the history of football has changed and one of FIFA President Gianni Infantino's biggest dreams have come true.
The FIFA World Cup has been expanded to 48 teams, the FIFA Council has unanimously decided. It will be in effect from the FIFA World Cup 2026.
Out of the five voting options that was mentioned, FIFA opted to go for the format featuring 16 groups of three teams each. This format sees the top two sides qualify for a round of 32 knockout stage.
The total number of games become 80, but the tournament will be completed within 32 days.
"The study took into account such factors as sporting balance, competition quality, impact on football development, infrastructure, projections on financial position and the consequences for event delivery," mentioned Fifa in a release.
Top football personalities -- from Jose Mourinho, current Manchester United coach to Argentina football legend Diego Maradona -- had spoken in favour of the FIFA World Cup featuring 48 teams. The FIFA World Cup started in 1930 and the current number of teams featuring in the competition is 32.
Here's what happens now:
- The Confederation of African Football (CAF) gets nine berths now in the World Cup. The current number is five.
- The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) is set for a 60% team representation in the World Cup.
- As per Martyn Ziegler, chief sports reporter at The Times, the representation from Asian Football Confederation (AFC) could rise by four places.
- Also, 16 European football nations (UEFA) can participate.