FIFA president, Gianni Infantino wants the football’s governing body to expand the 2022 Qatar World Cup to 48 teams and not just the 32 we are used to.
A motion has already been passed and accepted for the change starting from the 2026 tournament but Infantino believes we should implicate the move as soon as possible.
He said, “If you think it’s a good thing to have 48 teams in the World Cup, why not try four years before. That’s why we are analysing whether it’s possible to have 48 teams already in 2022. The World Cup will take place in Qatar with 32 teams. Obviously, if we can increase it to 48 teams and make the world happy, we should try it.”
Qatar was overjoyed to receive hosting rights when their name was declared but are unwilling to expand until reading FIFA’s study for the new arrangements, be it scheduling or the number of stadiums required.
Increasing the size of the tournament at such a giant scale might also be too much for the tiny nation of Qatar alone. They are already spending in the region of £6B to £8B for eight stadiums and sporting facilities.
Their neighbouring countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates(UAE), Egypt and Bahrain have already boycotted trade with Qatar over terrorism allegations. This certainly limits the possibilities of expansion but Infantino is willing to let the country’s leaders decide amongst themselves.
“If we can accommodate some of the neighbouring countries in the Gulf region, which are very close by, to host a few games in the World Cup this could be very beneficial for the region and the entire world.”
“There is tension in this particular region and it’s up to their respective leaders to deal with that. But maybe it’s easier to talk about a joint football project than more complicated things. If it can help all the people in the Gulf and all the countries in the world develop football and bring a positive message to the world about football, then you should give it a try.”