How to play in the round of 32 with 48 countries? Will ‘Wild Card’ be revived?

The 211 member countries of the International Football Federation (FIFA) are now starting a new four-year journey until the 2026 World Cup co-hosted in Canada, Mexico, and the United States in North and Central America. By the 2022 Qatar World Cup, 32 countries will be expanded to 48 countries. However, FIFA has not decided how the finals will proceed. There is a possibility that the ‘wild card’ system of 3rd place in the group stage to draw the round of 32 tournament bracket for 48 countries will be reintroduced.

Fifa President Gianni Infantino said at a press conference at the Main Media Center of the World Cup in Qatar on the 16th (local time), “The Qatar World Cup group stage method, which was held in 8 groups of 4 countries, was successful.” It needs to be reviewed and discussed again. I will put it on the agenda,” he said.

The 32 countries that passed the qualifiers for each continent were divided into 8 groups of 4 countries in the final round, and the 1st and 2nd place in each group played a round of 16 tournament through a full league to determine the final winner. The current method was introduced from the 1998 World Cup in France.

From the 1982 Spain World Cup to the 1994 USA World Cup, 24 countries qualified for the finals. The group stage was held in 6 groups of 4 countries, and among the 6 countries that placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each group, the ‘wild cards’ of the 4 countries with relatively good results drew the round of 16 tournament bracket. Before the World Cup in Spain, 16 countries qualified for the finals.토토사이트

The 32-nation system in the finals met relatively less resistance than the previous competitions, except for the division of participating countries by continent. However, as the growth of Asia and Africa led to an upward leveling of world soccer, there were occasional voices demanding more qualifications for the finals.

In particular, FIFA has been secretly trying to lead China to advance to the World Cup finals. Claims are being made in the world football world and media that they were conscious of China in regards to the qualification for the finals, which has increased to 48 countries.

In January 2017, FIFA decided to increase the number of participating countries in the World Cup finals to 48, and announced plans to introduce them from the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America. However, until now, more than five years later, the 48 countries have not decided on how to compete in the finals.

Previously, Arsene Wenger, head of FIFA international development, held a briefing in Doha, Qatar on the 4th about how to proceed with the next World Cup finals. He mentioned holding a strong tournament as one of the things to consider.

Wenger’s remarks are similar to those of the Infantino. If this idea is adopted, the ‘wild card’ system for third place in the group stage can be revived. Countries other than Europe and South America often fall below third place in the group stage. It is expected that they will get more chances to advance to the tournament rounds in the ‘wild card’ method.

Another plan that is widely discussed in the world football world and media is to divide the group league into 16 groups of 3 countries, play a full league in each group, and proceed with a round of 32 tournament by selecting the 1st and 2nd place in each group. If this method is introduced, the number of group stage matches for each participating country will be reduced to two, and the lowest ranked team will be eliminated early.

However, in this case, due to the increase in the ‘group of death’, countries with upper-middle rankings are eliminated one after another, and the disadvantage of not being able to play the final match of each group at the same time remains a task. If the final match of the group stage cannot be played at the same time, there is a possibility of manipulating the game or reducing tension by counting the advantages and disadvantages of each other. There are observations that FIFA is considering a plan to eliminate a draw by introducing a penalty shootout in the group stage.

Dividing 48 countries into 2 groups of 24 countries, and dividing each group into 6 groups of 4 countries for a group stage is also being discussed. In this way, the final winners of the two groups meet in the final to determine the winner. However, the feasibility of this plan is evaluated as low due to the complicated process.