ZURICH - If president of FIFA gets his way, one of the world's biggest sporting festivals is set for a major facelift. Gianni Infantino, head of soccer's world governing body, has devised a plan to expand the World Cup to include 48 nations rather than the existing 32.
The Italian, who took over from disgraced former President Sepp Blatter in February last year, will put his proposal to FIFA's council on Tuesday. But what does the plan entail, and what could it mean for one of the most watched sporting events on earth?
So.. what's the big idea? Essentially, Infantino is keen to spread the love. He wants the World Cup to be more 'inclusive' and add 16 nations to the fun. That would transform the tournament from a 32-team competition to a 48 team version.
Originally, he envisaged a playoff round with the 16 winners going through to the main group stage and the losers going home after just one match. But after a tweak to the plan FIFA now favors 16 groups of three teams, with the top two progressing to a last-32 knockout stage.
What happens currently? Since 1998, when the World Cup expanded to accommodate 32 teams, the format has stayed the same. There are eight groups of four teams, who all play each other once, with the top two progressing to the last 16. From there, it is a straight knockout format.
The last tournament, held in Brazil in 2014 and won by Germany, lasted just over a month. Any expanded tournament would almost certainly take longer.
Any other options on the table? Expansion to 48 teams is Infantino's preferred option but there are alternatives. His original blueprint, which included a playoff round to eliminate 16 teams before the group stage, will also be discussed.