Football: La Liga studies legal action against 48-team World Cup

The Fifa World Cup trophy in the hands of the cheering Italian players after the Fifa World Cup 2006 final Italy vs France in Berlin, Germany.
The Fifa World Cup trophy in the hands of the cheering Italian players after the Fifa World Cup 2006 final Italy vs France in Berlin, Germany. PHOTO: EPA

MADRID (AFP) - President of the Spanish league, Javier Tebas, suggested on Tuesday (Jan 10) that he may launch a legal challenge to Fifa's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026.

Tebas claimed Europe's most powerful and richest leagues had not been consulted on the decision and was based on Fifa president Gianni Infantino's need to fulfil promises which saw him elected last year.

"An institution involved in sporting politics is also taking decisions that affect the politics and economics of Europe's big leagues and these decisions can't be taken without consensus," Tebas told reporters on Tuesday.

 

"We will see if we will present a case to the competition commissioner of the European Union or also to the competition institutions in Switzerland."

A confidential Fifa report seen by AFP projects a 48-team tournament would bring a cash boost of US$640 million (S$919 million) above projected revenues for next year's finals in Russia.

 

And Tebas believes the big European leagues where the vast majority of star players from around the world ply their trade should have more of a say with opponents to the plan citing player burn-out as one of the major drawbacks.

"I think the leagues should have their opinion heard because 75 percent of the players in the World Cup are playing in the big European leagues and this type of organisation has an affect," added Tebas.

"Secondly, Fifa is an institution that takes political and sporting decisions, but also business decisions on TV rights which could affect us, so I am not in favour of the expansion of the World Cup."

Football's powerful European Club Association (ECA) also stated its strong opposition, describing the current 32-team World Cup model as "the perfect formula".

"We understand that this decision has been taken based on political reasons rather than sporting ones and under considerable political pressure, something ECA believes is regrettable," the body which represents Europe's leading clubs said in a statement.