FIFA Presidency: Figo unveils his scheme for 48-team FIFA World Cup

World Cup - Luis Figo announces plans for 48-team World CupFIFA Presidential hopeful Luis Figo has unveiled some of the changes that he would make if elected – including a huge change to the World Cup.
Figo, who is one of the challengers to incumbent Joseph “Sepp” Blatter has suggested expanding the World Cup from 32  to 48 teams and playing the tournament across two different continents at the same time.

“I believe we should consider proposals to expand the World Cup from its current 32-team structure to a 40 or even 48-team competition,” Figo said as he unveiled his manifesto at Wembley.

The 40-team proposal would keep the tournament in one venue, with eight groups of five teams each – the extra sides to be “weighted towards non-European nations”, according to the manifesto. An additional three or four days would apparently be added to the tournament.

However, it is the 48-team option which is most striking: two 24-team tournaments would be played concurrently on separate continents, e.g. one in Africa and one in Europe or one in the Americas and one in Asia. There would then be a final knock-out stage in one country, which would presumably mirror the existing last-16 stage of the tournament as it currently exists.

“Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play. If this expansion were to take place, I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations,” he explained.

“My starting point in this debate is that by increasing the number of teams participating in the World Cup, we not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world in the greatest football competition in the world, but also enable FIFA to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally.”

Some other ideas proposed by the Portuguese legend include rugby-style sin bins for players who abuse referees, further proliferation of goal-line technology and an end to the “triple punishment” dilemma, whereby teams whose players commit professional fouls in the box suffer a penalty kick, a red card and a subsequent suspension for the guilty player.

He would also back reverting to the “old” offside rule in which players were penalised whether or not they are involved in play.

Figo also proposed a new distribution scheme for FIFA’s vast revenues, spreading more of the money to help grass roots development of the game.

“Football has been my passion since I was a child. I was very lucky and extremely fortunate to have the chance to play and get training from a very young age,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this opportunity does not exist for most children in the world. My focus as FIFA President will be to make sure more children, boys and girls, get the same opportunity I had. Better infrastructures, more training. It is time for me to give back to the world of football everything it gave me.”

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al – Hussein and Michael van Praag  are also Candidates for the FIFA Presidency in the poll on May 29 in which Sepp Blatter is strongly expected to win another term by virtue of his strong support in South America, Asia and Africa.Blatter saddened by Egyptian tragedy

Viewpoint

Disappointingly, this is not quite what we were expecting from Figo. To spread the World Cup across two continents at the same time is a crazier scheme than anything Sepp Blatter has dreamt of and a complete abomination. Still, it would mean more World Cup games in Europe or at least more frequent World Cup games in Europe which would please his European backers.

 

Figo’s plans to redistribute FIFA’s money is designed to appeal to National Associations / Federations but evidently, Blatter has garnered huge amount of votes in  South America, Africa and Asia for example. Figo has a uphill battle to win even with some canny policies.

A Football pundit tweeted: “Worth mentioning that this Figo nonsense is pointless. Blatter already has 99% of the necessary support to win the vote”.

Apparently, the FIFA Congress of Member National Associations will decide on May 19, 2015 in Zürich, Switzerland.