Wenger unconvinced by World Cup expansion plans

8 December 2016 15:54

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is unconvinced by FIFA’s plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has claimed he has significant backing for a proposal to add 16 teams to the World Cup, creating a system that would see 16 groups of three teams in the competition from 2026.

A decision on the reforms will be made in January, with an extension to 40 teams also one of the options on the table.

But Wenger does not think moving above the current level of 32 would be beneficial to the standard of play.

“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 ahead of Arsenal’s game with Stoke City.

“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 [in the European championship], that’s basically 50 per cent of the teams we have in Europe.

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

While Wenger was uncertain about the World Cup plans, he is even more strongly against European qualification for major tournaments, which he feels is uncompetitive and has to change.

“The qualifying in Europe has to be changed already,” added the Frenchman.

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“The qualifiers are outdated, the way the competitions are organised now, and we have to rethink the process because of the number of games the players play that have really no meaning.”

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Article source: http://www.soccerway.com/news/2016/December/08/wenger-unconvinced-by-world-cup-expansion-plans

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