Fifa must reconsider the format of the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada, President Gianni Infantino has said.
Infantino said this would be looked at after the “success” of the four-team groups at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“The groups of four here have been absolutely amazing,” Infantino said.
“Until the last minute of the last game, you wouldn’t know who was passing.
“We need to review or at least re-discuss the format. It’s something that will definitely be on the agenda for the next meeting.”
The group stages in Qatar featured thrilling finals as the countries battled to finish in the top two to qualify for the last 16.
The four-team group format, with the top two advancing to the round of 16, has been used since the Men’s World Cup was expanded to 32 teams in 1998.
The best world cup of all time – Infantino
Infantino was speaking at a press conference in Qatar after attending a FIFA board meeting.
With the play-offs for third place and the final still to come, he said 3.27 million spectators attended the matches, compared to 3.3 million in total at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“Thank you to everyone involved, Qatar, all the volunteers to make this World Cup the best ever,” Infantino said.
“The matches went off without incident. The atmosphere was very joyful.
“Something happens when you talk about football going truly global, with an African team [Morocco] reach the semi-final for the first time.
“We also had a wife [Stephanie Frappart] officiating a game for the first time.
“It was an incredible success, approaching five billion in terms of viewing figures. Fans meeting the Arab world, it was very important for all of our future.”
A number of European nations planned to wear a OneLove armband during matches to promote diversity and inclusion, but did not due to possible sanctions from world football’s governing body, Fifa.
German coach Hansi Flick said his players cover their mouths during the team photo before their World Cup opener against Japan “to get the message across that Fifa is silencing” the teams.
“When it comes to regulations, bans, it’s not about banning, it’s about following the regulations,” Infantino said.
“Everyone is free to express their beliefs as long as it is done in a respectful way, but when it comes to the playing field, you have to respect and protect football.
“There are 211 football teams, not heads of state, and their fans want to come and enjoy football. That’s what we’re here for. I believe we stand for values, stand for human rights , let’s defend the rights of everyone at Fifa, in the World Cup.
“But I also believe that those fans who come to the stadium and all those billions who watch on television maybe – and we should think about that – they feel that everyone has their own problems, they just want to spend 90 minutes without having to think other than enjoying a little moment of pleasure, joy or emotion.”
“A legacy of exploitation and shame”
Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, along with its stance on same-sex relationships and its human rights record, were among the major controversies that overshadowed preparations for the World Cup.
Qatar’s World Cup chief executive slammed by Human Rights Watch for showing ‘callous disregard’ when he said “death is a natural part of life” when asked about the death of a migrant worker at the tournament.
Human Rights Watch also said the 2022 World Cup “ends without any commitment from Fifa or the Qatari authorities to address the abuses, including unexplained deaths, that migrant workers suffered to make the tournament possible. over the past 12 years”.
Human rights organizations and a number of football associations asked Fifa to create a compensation fund for migrant workers and their families, as well as the creation of a center for migrant workers in Doha.
“Unless Fifa and Qatar offer a remedy for the unresolved large-scale abuses suffered by the migrants who prepared and staged the tournament, they will have chosen to leave behind a legacy of exploitation and shame.” said Rothna Begum, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Infantino said: “For us, every loss of life is a tragedy and whatever we could do to change the legislation to protect the situation of workers, we did it and it happened. All we can still do for the future, we do.
“We want to bring that experience into the future and make sure we can help and leverage the World Cup and its spotlight to make life a little bit better for people and their families.”