Football Governing Body FIFA said at a council meeting in Zurich the World Cup finals will be expanded to 48 teams from the 2026 edition.

The proposal was backed unanimously according to FIFA and represented a 50 per cent increase from the present number of 32 teams.

Participating countries will be divided into 16 groups of three at the finals, likely creating a tournament with 80 matches up from the current 64.

The 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar would remain with 32 teams.

(dpa/NAN)