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The World Cup will be expanded to host 48 teams, up from 32, Fifa has decided.

An initial stage of 16 groups of three teams will precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32 when the change is made for the 2026 tournament.

The sport’s world governing body voted unanimously in favour of the change at a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday.

The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games.

It will make a mockery of the qualification process for most confederations

The tournament will be completed within 32 days – a measure to appease powerful European clubs, who objected to reform because of a crowded international schedule.

The changes mark the first World Cup expansion since 1998.