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MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. The Russian Football Union (RFU) has voiced its support for Tuesday’s FIFA Council decision to increase the number of participating teams in the quadrennial football championship from 32 to 48, however, the initial proposal of 40 teams looked much better, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS.
In line with the FIFA Council’s decision on Tuesday, the new format of participation comes into force staring with the 2026 world football championship and stipulates a total of 16 groups with three national teams in each competing for the World Cup trophy.
"We have been siding with the proposed variant of 40 teams," Mutko, who is also the RFU president, said in an interview with TASS. "I believe we could have organized the tournament having ten groups with four teams in each, but…"
"All (football) confederations supported the variant of 48 teams," Mutko said. "The same stance has been outlined by the UEFA and we supported the decision of our confederation."
"Football keeps growing on all continents and they are definitely not satisfied with their representation," Mutko said. "The existing scheme is subject to further changes, because not every country is capable of hosting such number of national teams and at least 12 stadiums should be required for hosting (the championship’s games.)"
"This is why a number of countries bidding to host (FIFA) World Cups will decrease," Mutko added.
The initiative to expand the participating format was voiced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino a year ago during his election campaign, but he initially proposed the number of 40 national teams.
The next two World Cups, which will be held in 2018 in Russia and in 2022 in Qatar, will be organized in line with the previous FIFA regulations stipulating a participating format of 32 national teams.
Russia is currently in full-swing preparations for the global football championship after the country won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Guatemala on December 4, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against the bid from England, the joint bid from Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.
The matches of the 2018 World Cup will be held between June 14 and July 15 at 12 stadiums located in the 11 mentioned above cities across Russia. Two of the stadiums are located in the Russian capital.