John Giles tells us what he makes of FIFA's decision to have a 48 team World Cup

Leeds and Ireland legend picks out some positives

BY Raf Diallo 20:33 Thursday 12 January 2017, 20:33 12 Jan 2017

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

John Giles believes there are positives from FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.

That expansion from the current 32 teams will come into effect from the 2026 World Cup.

With FIFA still to outline some of the details, what we do know is that there will be 16 groups of three teams, significantly more places for African and Asian and no extra games including for countries that reach the final.

That latter point is one that is encouraging according to John, who was speaking to Off The Ball.

"Whoever goes on to win the World Cup will not play any more matches than they are currently playing at the moment. So that's a biggie. I'd have some objections to it if the top teams were playing more and more matches than they have done in the past. But that doesn't seem to be the case."

And broadly speaking, John welcomes an expansion because of the opportunity it gives to a wider group of nations.

"In principle, I would be favour of an expansion," said John of the broader decision to increase the number of qualifying spots, citing the success of Euro 2016 for Ireland and other nations.

And in terms of opening up the tournament to more teams that rarely get the chance to reach that stage of competition, John feels FIFA have made the right call.

"The thing for FIFA is to grow the game as much as you possibly can and if it encourages people in whatever countries they are, however small, then I think it's a good thing," he said.

"The cream will come to the top anyway. Okay, a lot of teams coming in have no chance of winning it but you have to look at the effect it has in that particular country however small. Does it promote the game? Does it encourage young kids to play? We all want the top stars in it but for every top star that you get around the world, there might be a million or two million kids who are never going to be a top star. But it gives them something to do and a pastime like most lads when I played as a kid at Ormond Square." 

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