Let's start with what is supposed to be the most important thing at the World Cup - the games themselves. Their quality will likely suffer from expansion. The enlarged Euro 2016 in France demonstrated this. Many of the games were extremely boring and not played at a high standard. So there are widespread fears that the same thing will happen in a bloated World Cup with 48 teams.
However, this doesn't apply to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who has even said the quality of the World Cup will be enhanced by its expansion, even though he can not explain exactly how or why. But what would you expect him to say - he has to sell his product. After all, the World Cup has long ceased being about the football anyway.
What is actually driving Infantino on this issue are power and money, and not - as often claimed - the desire to renew or develop football. Infantino has said that he wants to give an opportunity to those countries to take part in a World Cup that would otherwise never get the chance.
Millions more in revenue
This may even be true, but what is also true is that FIFA is a professional business enterprise and acts accordingly - even if it describes itself a non-profit organization. Sixteen new World Cup participants are 16 additional sales markets for TV, licensing and sponsorship contracts. According to a FIFA document, the extra profit that a 48-man World Cup with 80 instead of 64 games would likely generate is around 600 million euros ($636 million). What could be a better argument? Not just that, but this would mean at least 16 more happy nations that would be happy to give Infantino their vote at the next FIFA election.
In Infantino's defense; he did not decide to expand the World Cup on his own. He only has one vote in the FIFA Council, so his idea must therefore have fallen on fertile ground in many places - and that is not surprising either. It's only natural that the federations from Africa, Asia, America and Oceania are interested in getting more of their teams to the World Cup. The rejection of the idea is just as natural for (mostly European) associations, which have been well served by the way things were up until.....