BEIJING – Fans in China were in doubt on Wednesday that their national team will be in the World Cup, even after FIFA’s decision to expand the number of participants in the tournament from 32 teams to 48, starting in 2026.
Despite many saying that China will take advantage of the decision, doubts and scorn dominated the comments by Chinese Internet users on Weibo, the local equivalent to Twitter.
“Give two places to the Antarctic and let China join the Antarctica (football confederation),” said one of the Internet users, in a selection of comments published by the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post.
Although FIFA has not detailed which continents will benefit most from the expansion, it is expected that Asia will increase from the current four or five qualifying tickets to seven or eight.
However, Chinese fans predict that other countries in the continent will benefit from this more than China.
“Most realistically, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan would qualify if there were two more places,” said another Internet user.