FIFA Outsider Figo Proposes World Cup With 48 Teams

Published: 20th February 2015 07:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th February 2015 07:16 AM   |  A+A-

Luis Figo-AP

Luis Figo proposed staging future World Cups over two continents involving up to 48 teams after launching his manifesto for his Fifa presidency campaign.

The former Real Madrid, Barcelona and Portugal star revealed he was in favour of expanding the 32-nation tournament if he unseated Sepp Blatter at May's election.

The outsider of the four candidates for the presidency thanks to his lack of connections among the 209 voting members, Figo, 42, stole a march on his rivals yesterday by becoming the first to publish a formal manifesto.

Boasting star power and endorsements from the likes of David Beckham and Jose Mourinho, he was nevertheless forced to sidestep questions at a press conference at Wembley Stadium about how much support he had from those who really mattered.

He did declare he was "more and more hopeful" each day of pulling off a huge shock on May 29, which would allow him to implement a 20-page manifesto containing dozens of proposals. The most eye-catching was his call for an "open debate" at Fifa Congress on the future of the World Cup, including discussing expansion to 40 teams - as previously proposed by Uefa president Michel Platini. Also on the table would be a 48-nation event played across two continents, with each hosting 24 teams during the group phase before a knockout stage in one country.

Figo said: "My starting point in this debate is that by increasing the number of teams participating in the World Cup, we not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world in the greatest football competition in the world, but also enable Fifa to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally."

The 2001 Fifa World Player of the Year proposed spreading half of the governing body's pounds 1.6?billion revenue over four years to associations to fund grass-roots football. And he said two-thirds of Fifa's pounds 970?million cash reserves should be redistributed to the 209 national federations. The election in May is a vote of those members, the backing of the majority of which Blatter appears to enjoy.

Figo, whose manifesto also calls for trials for sin bins and for a resurrection of the old offside law, said: "I want a new style of leadership of Fifa that can restore transparency, cooperation and solidarity."

Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein and Michael van Praag are also running for the presidency.

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