ABUJA: FIFA president Gianni Infantino remains firmly fixed in favour of expanding the World Cup finals to 40 teams.

Infantino indicated his continuing pursuit of a manifesto pledge ahead of his election in February during a visit, with secretary-general Fatma Samoura, to Nigeria.

He said: “I believe that for the World Cup 2026 – because the 2018 and 2022 finals are already decided – there should be 40 teams… and out of the eight more there should be at least two slots for African teams.

“This is what I declared during my campaign and as you know I’m not a dictator but a democratically elected FIFA president, so I have to speak to everyone and listen to everyone as well.”

Euro comparison

The next two World Cup tournaments are agreed with 32 teams, the total fixed since France in 1998. Africa has had five places since then, except for 2010 when host South Africa expanded the complement to six.

Critics have suggested that African teams’ generally disappointing performances have not justified more teams and also pointed up the poor quality of football and low goals count at the recently-expanded European Championship finals.

Euro 2016 in France saw 24 teams competing, an increase from 16 decided by European federation UEFA while Infantino was its general secretary.

** Europa League winners Sevilla have been fined €17,000 and Liverpool 16,000 for crowd incidents at the final in Basel in May.