WORLD CUP chiefs are discussing changing the format for the 2026 tournament which means the winners would have to play EIGHT games.
Organizers fear the plan for 16 three-team groups in the expanded 48-nation event could see unofficial deals made in the final match to ensure both sides go through.
Previous suggestions to avoid this included penalty shootouts for an extra point after drawn group matches.
Offering group winners the temptation of “home field advantage” so they avoid traveling between venues is another option.
But now senior officials are discussing splitting the qualifiers into 12 groups of four teams for the initial phase.
The top two from each group, along with the eight best third-placed teams, would advance to the knockout stages.
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Still, that would mean 104 games – down from the planned 64 games for Qatar 2022 – and the finalists would have to play eight games instead of seven.
Fifa insists that plan is not on the agenda at this stage, but SunSport have been told the idea is gaining momentum.
Still, that would risk clashing with clubs who are already complaining that seven-match tournaments put too much pressure on their players.
It would also mean the World Cup would last at least 35 days, up from 28 days this winter.
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GARETH SOUTHGATE and Wales boss Robert Page have both made optional visits to Doha this week – to ensure their World Cup plans are on track.
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