Feasible to have 48 teams in Qatar World Cup 2022, says FIFA

FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced on Friday that the FIFA's Feasibility study confirmed that 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup could feature 48 teams.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced on Friday that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will feature 48 teams.   -  Getty Images

FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced on Friday that the FIFA's Feasibility Study has confirmed that 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup could feature 48 teams.

A final decision will now be taken in Paris on June 6 after FIFA and Qatar jointly submit the names of potential co-host nations to the governing body's Congress.

However a final vote on increasing the number of teams at the football showpiece would only be taken in Paris on June 6 at the governing body's Congress. If the move does take place, the 2022 Qatar World Cup will be the largest ever, moving away from the current 32-team format.

“We came to conclusion, yes it's feasible to move from 32 to 48 teams at the World Cup provided certain conditions are met," Infantino said.

“Since we decided in January 2017 that we should increase teams in 2026, and following a request from the 10 South American associations whether it is feasible to do this for 2022. 90 percent are in favour of an increase but it's not as easy as that. We have to analyse matters carefully and we are working closely with Qatar.”

“We know the situation in the Gulf region,” added Infantino. “We are in the lucky position of being in football, and that means you can only care about football. I was pleased with the reaction of the Qataris. We don't want to regret not analysing the decision.”

The 2022 Qatar World Cup's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy released a statement later in the day, saying, "We have been open to the process of discussing a potential expansion of the World Cup in 2022 to 48 teams since discussions started in Moscow and continued in Kigali.

"Our openness was based on our commitment to hosting a FIFA World Cup that benefits our region and its people in the best way possible. It has always been our mission to ensure that this World Cup belongs to the entire Arab World and the Middle East."

The committee said it will determine whether moving to a 48-team World Cup will be a viable option and will be in the "best interests of football".

"We will work with FIFA to determine whether or not a viable operating model does exist and importantly, whether it is in the best interests for football and for the tournament, and for Qatar as the host nation. After these consultations, the final decision will be made by Qatar and FIFA."

"Until we reach that conclusion, we will continue to work toward hosting a 32-team World Cup in 2022 hosted in the State of Qatar."

The move away from the traditional 32 teams which will see 80 matches instead of 64 — the notion was originally slated to come into effect for the 2026 tournament in North America — means one or more other countries will be asked to help Qatar stage the shortened 28-day event which is scheduled to kick off in November 2022.

Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and United Arab Emirates are all potential options yet rancorous diplomatic disputes has led to the tiny Gulf state being politically isolated from many of its former allies.

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