Mourinho backs World Cup expansion proposal

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has backed proposals to expand the World Cup to 48 teams as he believes players would be better protected.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is hoping his plan to have 16 groups of three teams from the 2026 tournament onwards will be received favourably when the FIFA Council get together next week.

The influential European Club Association - of which United are a member - has already expressed their disapproval, but Mourinho is behind the potential reform.

He told FIFA.com: "I'm totally in favour. As a club manager, if the expansion meant more games, less holidays and less pre-season for players, I would say no. But it's important for critics to analyse and understand that expansion doesn't mean more matches. Players are protected and clubs are protected in this way.

"I prefer groups of three. Two matches and then through to the knockout stages or go home. This way, the two group matches are crucial, then the knockout stage is next which brings even more emotion.

"Teams with less potential and experience will probably play two matches and go home. But they would do so having improved and gained experience on the pitch, which would be added to the economic rewards of appearing at the finals - including further investment in their footballing infrastructure.

"The expansion means that the World Cup will be even more of an incredible social event. More countries, more investment in different countries in infrastructure, in youth football.

"More nations taking part means more passion, more happiness, more enthusiasm. More countries means more Africans, Asians, Americans together.

"Football is developed in the clubs, so we can't expect football to explode in terms of quality at a World Cup. The World Cup is a social event and football can't relinquish this opportunity to further reflect fans' passion."