FIFA acuerda ampliar el Mundial a 48 equipos a partir de 2026

Copa del mundo de fútbol. (FIFA)

Copa del mundo de fútbol. (FIFA)

La FIFA decidió expandir la Copa del Mundo de fútbol de 32 a 48 selecciones, dejando a un lado las preocupaciones que apuntaban a que una ampliación del formato podría reducir el estándar del torneo o que sea demasiado largo y engorroso.

El ente rector del fútbol mundial dijo en su cuenta de Twitter que el Consejo de la FIFA, el panel que toma las decisiones en el organismo, votó unánimemente a favor del cambio, que se introducirá a partir del 2026.

El nuevo formato incluirá una primera ronda de 16 grupos de tres equipos, dijo la FIFA. Nuevos detalle deberán darse a conocer más adelante.

El presidente de la FIFA, Gianni Infantino, que sustituyó al cuestionado Joseph Blatter en febrero, había hecho de la ampliación del Mundial una de sus promesas de su exitosa campaña electoral.

Infantino inicialmente había sugerido un torneo de 40 selecciones, pero luego añadió otras ocho en octubre.

Cada una de las 211 asociaciones que integran la FIFA tienen derecho a voto en la elección presidencial del organismo y 135 de ellas nunca han jugado un Mundial, por lo que la expansión del torneo fue siempre atractiva para la mayoría de los países.

Los críticos a la medida, entre ellos los poderosos clubes europeos así como algunos entrenadores destacados, han dicho que la FIFA está manipulando una fórmula ganadora.

La última Copa del Mundo, disputada en Brasil, fue ampliamente considerada como una de las mejores en los 87 años de historia de la competición, con grandes partidos y actuaciones individuales sobresalientes.

Otra preocupación sobre el nuevo formato es que podría haber un número de partidos al final de la fase de grupos donde dos equipos sabrán exactamente qué resultado los clasificará.

Las eliminatorias, por su parte, probablemente se convertirán en un mero trámite para muchas de las selecciones más fuertes.

El primer Mundial, disputado en 1930 en Uruguay, contó con sólo 13 equipos y 17 partidos. Dieciséis selecciones participaron a partir de 1934, ocho más se añadieron a partir de 1982 y, finalmente, otras ocho se sumaron desde 1998.

ZURICH/Agencias

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