FIFA considers shootouts for draws in World Cup group stage - report

FIFA executives are considering using penalty shootouts to decide any group game that ends in a draw in the proposals for a 48-team World Cup, according to a report in The Times.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said a proposal to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 nations, with 16 groups of three teams, received enthusiastic backing at a meeting of national federations on Thursday.

However, officials are reported to be concerned that three-team groups will increase the prospect of teams contriving to play out a mutually convenient draw in the second of their two games.

FIFA had changed the rules to ensure that the final two games in each group were played simultaneously following a controversy at the 1982 World Cup, when Germany and Austria's non-aggression pact in their final group game allowed both teams to progress at Algeria's expense, but simultaneous games are not possible with only three teams in a group.

Eliminating the possibility of draws would reduce the potential for mutually convenient results, although Germany and Austria had progressed in 1982 with a 1-0 victory for the former.

The Times said the shootout proposal has not yet been put forward to the FIFA council for consideration.

Infantino nonetheless said national federations had overwhelmingly supported the proposals, including three-team groups, during Thursday's meeting.

"The big, big, big majority is in favour of the 48 teams with the 16 groups of three," he said.

Amid FIFA floating different scenarios in the media, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin aimed a barb at the larger governing body on Friday.

"I read different ideas every day, so it is hard to say which one is the real one, if any," Ceferin, a FIFA vice president, said at a news conference after a UEFA executive committee meeting.

Asked how many of the 48 entries Europe wanted to be allocated, Ceferin said the lack of clarity in how FIFA proposed to allocate slots to its six confederations was one of the problems.

"When FIFA presents us some serious thing and not just articles and interviews then we can, of course, answer concretely," said Ceferin, who did not commit UEFA to supporting an increase from the 32-team format used since 1998.

UEFA's unease about the process suggests FIFA's target of a decision on Jan. 10 might be missed. The next option would likely by early May in Manama, Bahrain. Progress could be made next week when the confederations' general secretaries meet in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Club World Cup.