FIFA shelve plans to expand Qatar 2022 World Cup to 48 teams
12 June, 2018, 3:00 am
ZURICH, 11 JUNE 2018 (INSIDETHEGAMES) — Plans to explore a 48-team World Cup in 2022 have been take off the agenda for the FIFA annual Congress on Wednesday (June 13) after the body’s President Gianni Infantino revealed they will only proceed with the support of host nation, Qatar.
Hassan Al-Thawadi, head of the Qatari 2022 Organising Committee, addressed the Council at their meeting, but no final decision was made.
Infantino confirmed, however, that a final verdict will be made by the Council rather than the full Congress consisting of up to 211 Member Federations.
“The final decision is that the Council will decide,” Infantino said.
“But obviously it cannot decide this without the agreement with the hosts of Qatar.
“That’s a precondition obviously.”
The Council had confirmed in January 2017 plans to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams for the 2026 edition due to take place either in North America or Morocco.
In April this year, the South American Football Confederation put forward a proposal that a further 16 teams be able to compete at Qatar 2022.
But Infantino told L’Equipe last week that talk of a 48-team World Cup in Qatar was premature before adding how there was “nothing wrong in debating new ideas”.
The proposal was met with criticism in some areas and also led to concerns about how Qatar, which Infantino stressed would have to be consulted before they pursue any expansion, would deal with an expanded tournament.
It also raised the possibility of Qatar being forced to co-host the event with another country at a time of acute political tension in the Gulf region.
Qatar are building eight stadiums but between 12 and 14 would be required to incorporate 48 teams.
“The FIFA Council unanimously agreed that the matter raised by the member associations of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela – i.e. the proposal of a feasibility study to increase the number of teams from 32 to 48 in the 2022 FIFA World Cup – will first be discussed by FIFA with the host country, Qatar, and therefore it would be premature to put it forward to the FIFA Congress,” the world governing body said.
A timeline has not been given for a final decision.