ReadersResponse: Fans excited over prospect of GCC World Cup in Oman
March 26, 2019 | 8:12 AM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Football fans in Oman are excited to see the country possibly hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, should it be expanded to 48 teams.

Earlier this month, a feasibility study into Qatar’s capability to host an expanded World Cup from 32 to 48 teams was discussed by FIFA, which agreed that the nation was fit to host the tournament, provided some of the other GCC nations co-hosted some games alongside the Qataris.

FIFA’s report on this has said that Oman could be one of those nations, with football’s governing body to decide in June on whether the World Cup will be expanded, and if the potential co-hosts of this expanded tournament are to receive automatic qualification alongside the Qataris.

Times of Oman’s Facebook page was inundated with comments from delighted football fans. Viju Sindhu said, “Come on Oman and all Omanis and residents. Together, let’s proudly co-host the World Cup,” as Mohammad Sirajul Islam added, “Congratulations to the Oman football team if they qualify for the World Cup,” and Anju Charanjith added, “all the best to lovely Oman.”

Mohamed Mustafa added, “Happy to hear this. Oman is my second home,” Syed Javed Syed chipped in with, ‘Congratulations from the depth of my heart...I love Oman,” and Mohammed Aslam opined, “This will be good news for Oman!”

Mohammed Juel Hossain added, “All the best to the Sultanate of Oman,” with Mohsin Ahmed Ali Baloch saying, “It’s already under study and FIFA will release the final decision in June. There will be 48 teams instead of 32 if that happens, and surely it will be great for Oman.”

Many expats and locals felt that Oman’s role as a mediator and peacekeeper in the region meant the Sultanate was an automatic choice for co-hosting the 2022 World Cup. It is expected to be the world’s first ever winter World Cup and will take place between November and December 2022.

Ali Bhamani said, “Congratulations to Oman if it happens. It’s a proud moment for a peaceful nation like Oman,” and Fysal Nalakath added, “Congratulations; this would be a proud moment for Oman. I am super happy to hear this,” Ahmed Sherif Al Sehrawy commented: “I hope it happens,” and Reyan Ansari quipped, “Looks like I won’t need to travel to Qatar to watch the World Cup!”

Anila Paracha said, “Insha Allah Oman will host it,” while Ann Shah Ariffin added, “Insha Allah this will happen. Come on Oman!” Islam BD said, “Welcome to Oman, we are ready, FIFA,” and Breshnave Sunny contributed with, “Wow, this is happy news,” while Anthony Mascarenhas exclaimed, “Oh my God... this is great news.”

FIFA had already planned to expand the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams from 32 to 48 for the 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada, as part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s mandate when he took over the presidency.

“The FIFA administration has concluded that the expansion of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 from 32 to 48 teams would be feasible,” said that report. “In order to consider a 48 team tournament, FIFA and Qatar should consider a co-hosted tournament involving one or more neighbouring host countries.

“Based on parameters such as confederation membership, geographic proximity, stability, infrastructure and experience organising previous football tournaments, FIFA has identified the following countries that could potentially co-host the tournament alongside Qatar: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

The report added, “Implementing a 48 team tournament in 2022 would see each confederation guaranteed a higher slot allocation four years earlier than originally foreseen. Due to this sizeable increase, it is expected that most confederations would likely modify their qualification formats.

“To that end, a few key points must be clarified as soon as possible to enable the qualification formats to be finalised, approved by FIFA and communicated to qualifying member associations, in particular: confirmation of the format and slot allocation, and in the event of a co-hosted tournament, confirmation as to whether some or all new co-hosts would automatically qualify.”

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