The football governing body’s chief also spoke of investing in Indian football.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup recently concluded with Argentina defeating France in a tense final. This World Cup was also the first to be hosted by an Arab nation and second overall in Asia. After yet another successful World Cup edition under his watch, FIFA president Gianni Infantino recently went live on Instagram for a Q&A session with the fans and answered a few questions, including those on Indian football and India’s World Cup hopes.

Gianni Infantino on India’s chances of qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2026

One of the questions Infantino was asked was if India is going to be part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The next edition of the World Cup will be hosted jointly by the USA, Canada, and Mexico. Will India be at the 2026 World Cup? 1.5 billion people want to see them.

Infantino replied: “Well, I hope very soon. The next men’s World Cup is with 48 teams instead of 32 teams. So India obviously has a chance to qualify.”

He also assured the fans of Indian football that FIFA is investing in the country to ensure that it is on the right path to reach the World Cup. “What I can assure all our fans in India is that we are heavily investing in Indian football to make it big. Such a big country needs to have a great football competition and a great football team. So we are working on that,” said FIFA chief Gianni Infantino.

How the FIFA World Cup has evolved

The inaugural edition in 1930 started with 13 teams and then expanded slowly to 24 in 1982. Currently, the World Cup is being held in a 32-team format which has been in place since 1998 and will be expanded to 48 teams in the 2026 edition.

With this increase, Asia and Africa will be allotted a larger number of slots with the former getting eight slots (previously 4.5) and the latter with nine. Oceania, who were previously forced to compete via playoff matches, will get one direct qualifying slot.

Gianni Infantino last visited India during the finals of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and applauded the nation for organizing the tournament well. In the last few years, India has hosted many global events like the FIFA U-17 Men’s World Cup in 2017 and the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2022. The President also opined that the country has the ability to host many more events in future and also has to make its grassroots stronger. 

India have qualified for the 2023 Asian Cup and their performance in the event will help assess how the country will progress in the upcoming years.

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