Teams in Qatar World Cup will have 26 players, not 23

The FIFA World Cup trophy at JKIA, Nairobi, on May 26, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Teams participating in the Qatar World Cup this year will be allowed to select a maximum of 26 players, three more than the usual 23.

The Bureau of the FIFA Council, comprising the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the six confederation presidents made the resolution yesterday, saying the move factors in the need to preserve additional flexibility due to the unique timing of the tournament in the global calendar.

This will be the first time the World Cup will be held at the latter stages of the year. 

This is a similar format adopted by UEFA in the European Championship last year.

Ever since the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea, national teams were only allowed to name a final squad of 23 players.

FIFA’S decision is also based on the wider context of the disruptive impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on teams before and during tournaments.

“The maximum number of players on the release list has been increased from 35 to 55. The number of players to be included on the final list has been increased to at least 23 and a maximum of 26. No more than 26 people (up to 15 substitutes and 11 team officials – one of these officials must be the team doctor) will be allowed to sit on the team bench.” read a statement on the FIFA Website.

The Bureau also settled on Kigali, Rwanda as the host city for the 73rd FIFA Congress set for March 16, 2023. Kigali has hosted a FIFA Council meeting before (October 2018).

Kenyan football fans have already had a taste of the original FIFA World Cup trophy, when it came to Kenya on May 26 and 27.

The trophy tour came against the backdrop of Kenya’s ban from all international football due to government interference.

According to FIFA rules, the only people allowed to put their hands on the World Cup are a sitting president and players of a team who have the tournament.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy is awarded to the winners of the FIFA World Cup while remaining in FIFA’s possession.

The trophy is made of solid gold and weighs 6.142 kg, created as a composition of two human figures holding the globe above them.

Its current design dates to 1974. As one of the most recognised sports symbols in the world and a priceless icon, the trophy can only be touched and held by a very select group of people that includes former winners of the FIFA World Cup and Heads of State.

Because regulations state that the trophy shall remain in FIFA’s possession and cannot be won outright, the team winning the World Cup retains the authentic trophy temporarily and is then permanently awarded a replica, the FIFA World Cup Winners' Trophy (gold plated, rather than solid gold, and engraved with the year, host country and winner of the respective event).

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