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HomeEconomyFIFA allows larger 26-man squads for pandemic-era World Cup MPNRC
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FIFA allows larger 26-man squads for pandemic-era World Cup MPNRC

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The additional numbers help the 32 teams’ coaches deal with a possible outbreak of the virus. (Photo: Twitter)

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Geneva: FIFA approved 26-man squads for the World Cup in Qatar, deciding on Thursday to ease football rules that help coaches and players during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move was expected from the FIFA bureau – which included the presidents of FIFA and soccer’s six confederations – after recently expanding the 23-player roster for the continental championship.

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UEFA did the same for the European Championship last year after adding three players to the elite World Cup roster.

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A 28-player squad was also approved for the Copa America tournament in South America last year and the African Cup of Nations in January.

The additional numbers help the 32 teams’ coaches deal with a possible outbreak of the virus. It also means additional players are already following health protocols within the camp in Qatar rather than being brought in from their home country.

The change in team size will send a total of 96 additional players for the World Cup, to be played from November 21 to December 18. The 28-day tournament compared to 32 days in Russia four years earlier.

Most of the additional players will come from European clubs, whose domestic season must stop until 13 November for the first World Cup to be held in the northern hemisphere’s winter.

The squads will be together for just a week before the start of the tournament, instead of the usual preparation time of about two weeks.

FIFA created a $209 million fund from its World Cup revenues to compensate clubs for releasing players on national-team duty at a daily rate of approximately several thousand dollars.

World Cup teams can also now use five substitutes in 90 minutes instead of three in the regulation.

What started as an interim rule in 2020 to ease the player’s workload in congested sports schedules during the pandemic has now been codified into the rules of the game.

The FIFA Bureau has also scheduled 16 March next year for the presidential election to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, during the annual congress of the 211 member associations.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino is seeking a new four-year term to extend his leadership of football’s world body to 11 years.

No potential rival has yet been revealed and the deadline to enter the polls is four months before the election. It will be in mid-November, a few days before the start of the World Cup.

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