Possible Merger of FIFA Youth World Cups On The Cards
By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa
Cape Town: Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, football’s global governing body, is clearly a man with big plans for soccer development.
This time around, Fifa is considering merging its men’s U17 and U20 World Cups into one 48-team tournament.
The two World Cups currently take place every two years. But now plans are being discussed that would see one larger tournament held on an annual basis.
Fifa officials are also exploring the merits of an age cut-off at 18 or 19.
England is the defending champion of both the U17 and U20 World Cup. Having lifted the titles last year.
The AP added that plans are also being considered to create a 24-team tournament for women’s national teams.
Infantino discussed the proposals with some member associations during meetings in Mauritania and Nigeria last week.
Since Infantino became Fifa president in February 2016. Tthe senior World Cup has already been expanded from 32 teams to 48.
This a change that will come into effect from 2026.
Fifa further told the AP that the latest proposals are part of an ongoing review of its competitions.
The AP added that 48-team youth competitions would feature double-header matches in the same stadium to reduce the strain on host countries.
Infantino has previously said that co-hosting models would be favoured for future editions of the senior World Cup to compensate for the extra fixtures. But multiple hosts would seemingly not be needed for youth events.
Last year’s U17 World Cup took place in India, with the U20 event having been held in South Korea.
Hosts of the next two editions of the tournament have yet to be decided.
Although the 2018 women’s U17 and U20 World Cups will be held in Uruguay and France, respectively.
North Korea is the defending champion of both events.