The International Handball Federation (IHF) Council has taken the decision to increase the number of teams at its World Championship events from 24 to 32.
The expansion is due to apply to World Championships for seniors, juniors and youths in both genders, starting from 2021.
It is hoped the change will provide an opportunity for more nations to gain experience on the biggest international stage.
The decision was taken at the third IHF Council meeting, held during 2018 IHF Super Globe in Qatar’s capital Doha.
Possibilities regarding qualification for World Championships from the regions of North America and the Caribbean, as well as South and Central America, were also discussed.
Furthermore, the decision of the IHF Ethics Commission to suspend the right of IHF Commission for Development chairwoman, Raquel Pedercini, from participating in three continuous official meetings of the IHF Council due to a violation of the IHF Ethics Code was presented, along with the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) related to the Pan-American Team Handball Federation (PATHF).
Last month, the IHF vowed to continue their pursuit of splitting the PATHF into two despite the CAS ruling against the organisation.
The IHF opted to split the Continental Federation, which would see the establishment of a body for North America and the Caribbean, and another for Central and South America.
A decision to split the Pan American region in two was deferred by the IHF Congress last November following a vote which saw 102 votes go in favour of the motion, 26 against and 40 abstentions.
It was claimed the IHF Council would ultimately make a decision on the future structure of the region.
The IHF Council approved the split at a meeting in Zagreb.
The PATHF claimed their organisation voted against the division at an Extraordinary Congress in Bogotá in Colombia on October 7 in 2017.
Among the concerns raised was the potential that the divide could result in the American continent no longer having a reserved space among the IHF vice-presidents, with confederations required to have at least 23 full members to be guaranteed this.
Under the split there would be 19 countries and two regional members in the North America and Caribbean Handball Confederation, while 18 countries and one regional member would be part of the South and Central America Handball Confederation.
The PATHF has disputed IHF President Hassan Moustafa’s claim that two thirds of the IHF Congress voted in favour of delegating the decision of dividing the organisation.
They allege their sole representative at the meeting, Pedercini, was threatened after opposing the IHF.
"The only person from the continent in the IHF Council meeting in Zagreb, the President of the Canadian Handball Federation and chairwoman for the IHF Commission for Development, Raquel Pedercini, was denigrated and yelled at by the IHF President for defending the unity of our federation, and threatened to be 'removed from her position' for opposing," the statement claimed.
"PATHF absolutely repudiates any sort of gender violence, both physical and oral, and stands by the equality of man and woman in any level of sports."
In Doha, the IHF Council also heard reports on and discussed past events, including previous Executive Committee meetings, the 2018 Women's Junior World Championships in Hungary, the 2018 Women's Youth World Championships in Poland, and the 2018 Men's and Women's Beach Handball World Championships in Russia.
Futher items on the agenda included the 2019 Men's Junior World Championships in Spain, the 2021 Men's World Championships in Egypt, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and wild card attribution for IHF World Championships.