Mourinho backs FIFA plans to expand World Cup

Matt Stead

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has declared he is “in favour” of Gianni Infantino’s proposal to make the World Cup into a 48-team tournament.

The FIFA president is aiming to expand the competition so that is contains 16 groups of three teams by the 2026 tournament but it faces opposition, with the European Club Association already expressing it’s displeasure at the plans.

However, Mourinho thinks the competition would offer more protection for players and would expand the World Cup’s social reach with more teams from other continents able to compete.

“I’m totally in favour,” he told “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. Players are protected and clubs are protected in this way.

“I prefer groups of three. Two matches and then through to the knockout stages or go home. This way, the two group matches are crucial, then the knockout stage is next which brings even more emotion.

“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, which would be added to the economic rewards of appearing at the finals – including further investment in their footballing infrastructure.

“The expansion means that the World Cup will be even more of an incredible social event. More countries, more investment in different countries in infrastructure, in youth football.

“More nations taking part means more passion, more happiness, more enthusiasm. More countries means more Africans, Asians, Americans together.

“Football is developed in the clubs, so we can’t expect football to explode in terms of quality at a World Cup. The World Cup is a social event and football can’t relinquish this opportunity to further reflect fans’ passion.”