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European Leagues opposed to Fifa tournament expansion plans

Top leagues across Europe are opposed to Fifa's expansion plans for the 2022 World Cup and future editions of the Club World Cup, the European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson has said.

International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) President Gianni Infantino gestures while speaking during a press briefing closing a meeting of the Fifa executive council on 10 January 2017 at Fifa headquarters in Zurich. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - Top leagues across Europe are opposed to Fifa's expansion plans for the 2022 World Cup and future editions of the Club World Cup, the European Leagues president Lars-Christer Olsson has said.

Fifa plans to expand the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 for the 2026 tournament but the global governing body’s president Gianni Infantino has said he was open to introducing the proposal at the 2022 finals in Qatar.

The European Leagues, an umbrella group for 32 professional leagues and associations from 25 European countries, is against the proposed expansion, which would add extra days and matches to the event.

“We are not prepared to make any changes on the calendar for expanding the 2022 World Cup,” Olsson told The Times in Britain.

“We have already been flexible to allow the World Cup to be played in the winter and have agreed the dates, and we are not prepared for the duration of the World Cup to be any longer.”

In 2015, Fifa announced that the 2022 World Cup would be staged in the last two months of the year in an effort to avoid issues arising from the extreme heat in Qatar during June-July, forcing most leagues to heavily adjust their calendars.

World football’s governing body are likely to decide on the expansion plan for 2022 during the next FIFA Congress in June.

Infantino also previously said that several companies were interested in expanding the Club World Cup from it’s current eight-team format to a grander 24-team event.

“There is also talk about expanding the Club World Cup and we have serious reservations about that too,” Olsson added.

“FIFA seems to be on an expansion drive. It’s time people thought about the players - they need time to rest. It cannot just be money deciding how football should be organised.”

The 2022 World Cup will be held from.21 November to 18 December, while the Club World Cup has been an annual event since 2005.

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