Cape Town - Of the 64 games played during last year's 32-team, uniform and evenly-contested World Cup soccer tournament in Russia a mere two matches finished with a victory margin of more than three goals.

Contrast this to the 20-team current Rugby World Cup in Japan that is gripping South Africans, providing a fair share of games of fascinating and engrossing intensity, but is adversely and inappropriately diminished to some degree by a succession of one-sided matches that should have no part in a pinnacle extravaganza of this nature.

In three games, for example, hapless Namibia have lost 71-9 to a less-than-full-strength All Blacks, 57-3 to a similarly weakened Springboks and 47-22 to an Italian team that has not set the World Cup alight - compiling a net 34 points and conceding a massive 175 points in the process.

In their three matches, Canada have gone down 63-0 to New Zealand, 66-7 against South Africa and 48-7 to Italy for meagre 14 points against the 177 conceded.

Russia are only marginally better with a 35-0 defeat against Ireland, 34-9 against Samoa, 30-10 against Japan and 61-0 against Scotland, while amassing a mere 19 points against the 160 conceded.

And the United States’ record of a 45-10 loss to Australia, a 33-7 defeat against Georgia and then going down 47-17 to Argentina does not truly make respectable reading either.

Seemingly there are barely 16 nations worldwide with the genuine credentials to be included in a premier World Cup tournament - although the scenario is a lot brighter in the secondary
Sevens version of the game in which 24 teams compete at World Cup level - and it is unlikely to improve much in France in 2023, with a 20-team entry already designated.

But if soccer, rightly labelled "the World Game" with 2011 countries affiliated to FIFA, should be content with a seemingly ideal and balanced World Cup format of 32 teams, it's not the case and Swiss-Italian FIFA president Gianni Infantino has not only piloted an increase to 48 teams at the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America, but unsuccessfully, for the betterment it must be stated, failed in his bid to rush through an increase to 48 teams for the tournament in Qatar in 2022.

With a 32-team Soccer World Cup operating so smoothly, what so obsesses Infantino to increase the number by a further 50 percent and risk the finely tuned balance of the tournament tumbling a little in one direction or other?

There is a case for a 48-team World Cup in 2026 by virtue of the fact that the event will be staged in three countries, namely the United States, Canada and Mexico, but there is a suspicion that Infantino, a relative unknown globally before he replaced the disgraced Sepp Blatter, is seeking to emulate his predecessor by pandering to the desire - and votes - of FIFA’s 2011 members who would obviously see their chances of qualifying for a 48-team World Cup improve dramatically in comparison to a 32-team tournament.

Cricket has grappled with a unique headache in assembling World Cups because of the game's three different formats - namely the traditional and truly genuine Test match version of the game, the 50-over process, which has evolved in the most popular insofar as the fans are concerned, and the latest, hectic 20-20 match-up version  in which the long-standing, classical artistry and techniques imprinted in the game over many years are largely cast aside.

And it is only recently that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has come up with something of a contrived, but appropriate World Test Championship that will extend over a two-year period involving nine of the 11 Test match nations and climax ultimately with the two top teams in a league program facing each other to finally come up as Test Match World Champions.

With the once intriguing and popular Davis Cup system that produced an annual tennis version of a World Cup after ties played over the entire year having shed a slice of its appeal, with a number of the game's main drawcards placing their own interests ahead of that of their countries by declaring themselves unavailable for the event, the ITF has transformed the Davis Cup format to regain its appeal and 24 countries will for the first time take part in a year-end tournament to decided the tennis version of the world champion nation.

Each of the World Cups and various other imitators has its problems when it comes to settling on the number of competing nations.

With many it is because there are not sufficient teams who measure up to the required standard.

Soccer, perhaps, is the exception with too many viable candidates lining up to qualify for World Cup action - but in plumping for a 48-nation World Cup in 2006 is the "World Game" perhaps not going too far?