FIFA is looking to merge both the Under 17 And Under 20 world cups, emulating the expansion of the main World Cup.
Officials are exploring the merits of an age cut-off at 18 or 19. The women’s youth tournaments could also be combined to create a single 24-team event under plans that were considered in a meeting of the governing body’s competitions committee two weeks ago.
The proposals were discussed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino with some member associations during summits in Mauritania and Nigeria this week.
FIFA told The Associated Press the proposals form part of an ongoing review of competitions two years into Infantino’s presidency that has already seen the main World Cup expanded from 32 to 48 teams from 2026.
If eventually approved, there would be a far bigger jump in size for the U17 and U20 World Cups, with each biennial event for young men currently featuring 24 teams.
FIFA is trying to streamline the international youth football calendar that also saw England teams compete at three European youth championships last year in U21, U19 and U17 categories.
England won the European U19 title between triumphs at the U20 World Cup in South Korea in June and the U17 World Cup in India in October.
The U20 competition was known as the FIFA World Youth Championship until 2005 when Lionel Messi helped Argentina win the 15th edition.
FIFA has more flexibility around immediate changes to its youth tournaments for young men as hosts for the 2019 events are yet to be selected.
But the women’s U17 and U20 World Cups will be staged this year in Uruguay and France, respectively. North Korea will be defending both titles won in 2016