FIFA boss says there is ‘50-50’ chance of Qatar World Cup expansion
April 11, 2019 | 12:25 PM
by Times News Service
Photo Courtesy -

Muscat: FIFA’s President has now said that there is a ‘50-50’ chance of the 2022 football World Cup being expanded to 48 teams.

Should that happen, though, FIFA had previously said that some of Qatar’s fellow GCC nations, including Oman, could host some of the games.

However, recent global media reports did say that the Sultanate might not be able to ready themselves as potential co-hosts, given the short time frame between now and the end of 2022.

Speaking at a meeting of CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation, Gianni Infantino told Reuters that a decision on expanding the upcoming World Cup, which is to be hosted by Qatar, will be taken in June.

“We are working to see if we can get 48 teams in the 2022 World Cup because more participation means more development and more passion for everyone,” he said. “We’ll see by June whether it is possible or not. (It’s) 50/50. What is 100 percent is that the 2022 World Cup is going to be spectacular and a total success.”

Earlier, FIFA had commissioned a feasibility study to see whether the 2022 FIFA World Cup was capable of being expanded from its existing 32 to 48 teams. At their meeting in Miami on 15 March, the FIFA Council agreed that the upcoming tournament could be expanded, provided some of Qatar’s fellow Gulf Cooperation Council nations, including Oman, were willing to host some games of this expanded World Cup.

The feasibility study by FIFA said, “with regard to host country feasibility, FIFA’s analysis demonstrates that hosting a 48-team FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Qatar alone would not be feasible. In order to consider a 48-team tournament, FIFA and Qatar should explore a co-hosted tournament involving one or more neighbouring host countries.

The report added, “Based on parameters such as confederation membership, geographical proximity, stability, infrastructure and experience organising 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 (UAE).”

Following that meeting in Florida, FIFA President Infantino had said that they were working with the Qataris to see if such a move was feasible.

“We are looking into the matter and seeing whether it is possible, whether it is feasible, to anticipate this already in 2022,” he explained. “If it is feasible, if it is possible, great, if it is not feasible, if it is not possible, great. But I think as FIFA, we have the duty to look into that. We consulted all our associations. Ninety percent are of course in favour of an increase but it is not as easy as that. You cannot just take a simple decision, and you have to analyse this things very carefully. We are working very closely with Qatar to see what proposals can be made.

“What is clear is that if we were to increase to 48 teams, and we will decide this in June, then some games would have to be hosted by some neighbouring countries of Qatar, and we together with our partners from Qatar will present eventually a proposal in this respect,” Infantino added. “I was very pleased with the Qataris the first time this idea was shared with them because they were open to it. Their reaction was, well, for FIFA, if you think that this is positive for football associations all around the world, then of course, we will look into that together, and see what can be done, and this is exactly the attitude that we like. A constructive attitude, a positive attitude. We will look into it.

“Again, if it happens, fantastic, if it doesn’t happen, fantastic as well. As we don’t have the regrets that we didn’t analyse this,” he revealed. “We will move to the next stage. We will look at who could potentially be hosting some of the games in the Gulf region, and if we come to some conclusions in June, then we will make a proposal to the Council and to the Congress, which is our ultimate decision making body.”

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