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Luis Figo unveils plans for World Cup expansion

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Luis Figo has today unveiled his plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams should he win the Fifa presidential election.

Figo was at Wembley stadium today to release his manifesto with his top proposal being the idea of changing the current format of the World Cup from a 32-team tournament to including an extra 16 teams.

Figo also suggested the tournament could be made up of 40-teams as well. He is open to the idea that the 48-team structure would split into two mini-tournaments that then progresses to a final knockout stage. The idea could also see two 24-team tournaments take place simultaneously in two separate continents with a final knockout phase in one country.

"If this expansion were to take place I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations"

The 42-year-old candidate said: “Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play. If this expansion were to take place I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations.

“We not only make sure that we include more countries from across the world, but also enable Fifa to raise significant increased revenues that can be used to invest in the growth of the game globally.”

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The former Ballon d’Or winner is one of three candidates that is standing against current Fifa president Sepp Blatter in this year’s election. Dutch federation president Michael van Praag and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein are the other candidates to become the new leader of football’s world governing body.

Rule changes

Another of his key proposals is the option of introducing sin-bins for players who are guilty of unsporting behaviour towards referees. He is also keen on reverting the offside rule back to the what it used to be before, where a player is deemed to be offside even if they are not directly involved in the play to eliminate confusion.

As well as that Figo outlined a commitment to put an end to the “triple punishment” rule whereby a player that concedes a penalty gets a red card and is then suspended as well for committing a professional foul inside the box.

The frontrunner to be elected is the 78-year-old Blatter who has been in charge of Fifa since 1998. His time in charge has been troubled with scandal with the most recent issue coming when he was criticised over the way he handled Michael Garcia’s report into the corruption of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes.

“All the process around corruption and transparency - that makes me take the step and try to change something"

Running against Blatter

Figo told Sky Sports: “We've seen recently the image of FIFA being degraded. After talking to so many keepers in the world of football - coaches, players, presidents of associations - the idea is something has to be done.

“All the process around corruption and transparency - that makes me take the step and try to change something."

Realistically, most people think that Blatter has got enough backing to get reelected again despite all the scandal surrounding him, but the former Real Madrid and Barcelona star isn’t put off by that.

Figo said: “If I wasn't confident I wouldn't have taken that step. But in the end the open debate will be good for football and the future of the organisation, and that is what I care about.”

We find out who the next president of Fifa will be on May 29 in Zurich at Fifa’s annual congress.

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