Qatar planning for 32-team 2022 FIFA World Cup, says Nasser Al Khater

A decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams would be taken only if Qatar and FIFA agree. The 2022 FIFA World Cup CEO, Nasser Al Khater, said that it will not be a unilateral decision.

CEO of FIFA World Cup 2022, Nasser Al Khater. (File Photo)   -  Getty Images

Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, asserted on Saturday that a decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams would be taken only if Qatar and FIFA agree and that it will not be a unilateral decision.

"If it remains a 32 teams World Cup, the decision will take place due to an agreement between Qatar and FIFA, no one will unilaterally take this decision. We are studying and looking at it, and want to do what's best for football. There are a lot of positives by expanding it to 48 teams, as well as a lot of positives of keeping it at 32," Al Khater told select media. 

"The planning right now is for a 32 team World Cup," he added.

The final decision will be announced at the FIFA Congress to be held in Paris on June 5. The FIFA Council in March had discussed the feasibility study that looked at the possibility of expanding the tournament. FIFA president Gianni Infantino had said the study indicated it was possible to make it a 48-team affair "providing certain conditions are met."

One of the conditions include that while Qatar will remain the main host nation, a few matches will have to be hosted in neighboring countries as well. That becomes a daunting task for the organisers due to the Gulf blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt. 

READ | Infantino urges Kuwait to host 2022 World Cup matches: media reports

- Preparations in full swing -

Qatar -- which will become the first Arab nation to host the World Cup -- boasts two ready-to-play stadiums in the Khalifa International Stadium and the Al Janoub Stadium.

READ | All you need to know about 2022 FIFA World Cup venue Al Janoub Stadium

The Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar has a capacity of 40,000. The pitch was laid in March this year in a record time of 9 hours and 15 minutes.   -  Special Arrangement

 

The latter was inaugurated on Thursday for the Amir Cup final and is the first venue to be built from scratch. “We are expecting one more stadium to be launched this year, possibly two. If not, then the fourth one will be launched at the beginning of 2020. We hope to complete all of our stadiums by 2020, or latest by 2021,” added Al Khater.

Along with the stadiums, transportation is also being spruced up as highways have been constructed and the metro was launched last week. With 13 stations currently active, the metro consists of a total of 37 stations across three lines and will facilitate smooth movement of fans from one stadium to another.

(The writer is in Qatar on an invitation by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy)

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