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‘WK 46 instead va 32 teams: FIFA hits the ball wrong’

The decision to use the world cup to expand from 32 to 46 participating teams is not motivated by sports motives, writes Yves Vanden Auweele (K. U. Leuven, Logia).

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The decision of the FIFA to 46 instead of 32 teams to the world cup of 2026 is perpendicular to both the analyses and proposals of experts as to the growing public dissatisfaction against an uncontrolled globalization that only the large international companies.

The FIFA decided that, with effect from 2026 is not 32 but 46 countries are allowed to participate in the world cup. Even more voetbalfeest at first glance. What me bothers is the fact that the FIFA is again little attracts not only legitimate sporting (drop of level) and organizational (logistical nightmare) criticism, but also of the identified adverse impact that the already large world cup has on the cities and countries where she is being held.

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‘WK 46 instead va 32 teams: FIFA hits the ball wrong’

With that statement, district I of the triumphant references to the expected positive effects on economic and sporting level. World cup would be a windfall for the host country to be positive to come into the picture. In addition to the favourable economic impact (infrastructure, creation of employment, the opening up of backward areas, creation of opportunities for tourism and industry) would, at most, fleeting difficult to measure subjective gains to be realized, such as a more positive image of the country, an increase of national pride and a positive feeling in the population.

These expected positive effects, however, are since many years by scientific research (including experts and Maennig, Kesenne, Tax) completely disempowered. The benefits are grossly exaggerated and the costs underestimated. Nevertheless, in sports: it leads like a mantra be increased. Additionally, it is now after the Brexit and the election of Donald Trump becoming ever clearer that there is a growing uneasiness in the face of an uncontrolled globalization that only big international companies (and also FIFA). A nationalist reflex is one thing, playing tricks with facts and analyses of experts is another.

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“FIFA will remain insufficient to take into account the contradictions between its interests, those of the sponsors and that of the host countries.’

The decision of the FIFA shows that criticism is not to be understood or at its inapplicable. The realization has not yet penetrated that work her way to tension, frustration and aggression leads. Globally, we have noted a growing frustration in respect of its power against the powerlessness of the host community, a frustration which additional outrage ent by revelations about corruption and the unequal distribution of costs and benefits. The FIFA remains insufficient to take into account the contradictions between its interests, those of the sponsors and that of the host countries. There are heavy requirements (number, location and size of the stages) that require large-scale expropriation and drastic restructurings that are not easy to be in conformity with the local needs. In addition, there are the strong (greedy, unfair?) rules of the FIFA. All lucrative elements of the big sporting events are under their control: marketing, accommodation, ticket sales, radio and television broadcasting rights and sponsorship.

Authoritarian regimes

It Is surprising that WK’s today, brought in by authoritarian regimes and BRIC-countries (Russia, Qatar, South Africa, Brazil) and not by countries where a large social support is sought for the organisation of a world cup?

A Brazilian colleague, Professor Antonio Bramante, member of Panathlon told it to me this way: “The events in Brazil won by a few politicians and business people. The population was in no way consulted.

There was absolutely no research done into the durability and usefulness of the infrastructure after the event. There is never anything in a transparent manner, communicated. The preparations went in a very authoritarian way, and in the tendering and execution of the work was large-scale corruption is present. In addition, the announced prices of the tickets absurdly high layers, so that the population’s opinion, that they are with their tax money and at the expense of an improvement of education and health a big party to organize were for wealthy foreigners. In short, there was a onmachtsgevoel in the population, an inability to own expectations to express and outrage over the corruption. The escalation and success of the demonstrations were a liberating explosion of a long-dormant displeasure.”

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“Who wants under these conditions even a world cup organize?’

Recent research, among others, of the Belgian-Canadian professor Levy shows that many of the adverse side effects of mega sporting events could be avoided if that mega-events would be replaced by a larger number of sporting events on a smaller scale and of shorter duration: if the international and the local organisers in a more fair contract would be shut down, the initiative is a broad democratic and transparent basis, the account would be held with local expectations, and one is already in the allocation would require that potential adverse effects listed and actions to be planned to prevent them.

In the context of this vooruitschrijdend insight is a mystery to me why the sporting and administrative elites in some countries the world cup would want to retrieve it, together with the tender to compete with and the FIFA rules without much criticism would accept?

I’m curious who the world cup 2026, under what conditions will want to organize?

Emeritusprof. Dr. Yves Vanden Auweele (sports psychologist, university of Leuven; member of the Panathlon and Logia)

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