You might have heard by now — the FIFA World Cup is expanding from 32 to 48 teams starting with the 2026 World Cup. I’ve stated how much I hate it, but that hatred could be taken to an entire different level.
According to ESPNFC, FIFA is considering a ridiculous way to decide group stage games. Marco Van Basten, FIFA’s chief officer for technical development, said FIFA is considering shootouts. Not penalty kicks, which would be dumb enough, but those former MLS and NASL-style shootouts. Remember?
With 16 groups of three, each team has two matches guaranteed and that could mean teams end up tied on points and goal differential or a final group stage match where two teams could draw and both go through. Forcing a winner would eliminate that.
So they have the bright idea to consider something that, albeit different and fun for a brief period, has no place in soccer or a connection to the world’s biggest game. In fact, here’s how people will react when watching it.
Van Basten said it would probably be best of five, and the goalkeeper isn’t allowed to leave the box, with the attacker starting about 27 yards out.
“If you have those shootouts after 90 minutes and one team scores five times, another one four times and the third only three times, it’s much easier to determine the winner of a group,” Van Basten.
Great idea, VB. Now let’s add trampolines inside the box, and a blue card that each team can play to take an opposing player out of the match for 10 minutes.