Arsene Wenger 'not convinced' by World Cup expansion plans

Arsene Wenger 'not convinced' by World Cup expansion plans

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is "sceptical" about plans to extend the World Cup to a 48-team tournament.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is pushing for an expanded competition from the 2026 World Cup onwards, with 32 nations competing at the finals under the current set-up.

Infantino favours a structure which would see 16 groups of three teams, with the top two then advancing into the last 32 knockout system.

A decision on the potential World Cup reforms will be made in January but Wenger has already suggested the changes may not improve the competition and could be made for the wrong reasons.

"My thoughts on that are is it guided for popular reasons? Or is that guided to improve the level of football? I'm a bit sceptical," he said on Thursday.

"If somebody can convince me that it will make football better and that we can live with the time it will take to complete the World Cup, I am ready to listen.

"At the moment, I think I am not convinced. We have moved to 24 teams in Europe (for the European Championships), that's basically 50 per cent of the teams we have in Europe.

"I can't see that being a huge improvement on the quality of the game. But 48 teams... we have about 300 teams in the world, the percentage looks that it could be accepted."

Wenger has, however, called for changes to be made to the "outdated" European qualifying process for future World Cups, as interest and attendances are dwindling in large parts of the continent.

"The qualifying in Europe has to be changed already," he said.

"You look at the percentage of wins of the big countries in the qualifiers. They go to the big tournaments with 90 per cent wins and then the competition starts.

"The qualifiers are outdated, the way the competitions are organised now, and we have to rethink the process because of the number of games the players play that have really no meaning."

Even if Infantino's preferred measures are not adopted early next year, there could still be changes made to the World Cup, with different permutations of the 48-team format or an expansion to 40 teams also on the agenda.

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