We have decided to increase the number from 32 to 48- Infantino on Qatar 2022
Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva
The move to expand the tournament had recently been agreed by the FIFA-Council.
The Federation of International Football Associations' president Gianni Infantino has insisted that there are rounds of talks going on over a possibility of extending the Qatar 2022 World Cup edition from the 32 team format to 48 team affair. He briefly said that such an expansion is “possible” and “feasible.”
Though the ambition of FIFA representatives will put the host nation under immense pressure, who have asked for some time to examine the feasibility of spreading the tournament and a reply is expected early next year.
The revelation came through the media interaction at the Asian Football Confederation’s annual congress in Kuala Lumpur about a possible expansion in 2022, Infantino referred to the 48 team World Cup set to be hosted in 2026 by the US, Canada and Mexico in 2026.
“We have decided... to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cup final tournaments from 32 to 48. It will happen in 2026. Will it happen in 2022? You know me. It is possible. It is possible. Why not?” he added.
Infantino assured AFC national football associations that the expansion would see more Asian team in the edition, with at least four more teams ending in the final stage. Before 4.5 slots were given in a 32 nation format with 8.5 will be given in a 48 team format.
“You will have (a bigger) chance,” he said. “It is possible... It is feasible. We are discussing with our Qatari friends. We are discussing with many other friends in the region. We hope we have it happen. We always have to try.”
Qatar is spending heavily to host the mega event, with eight stadiums after they won the rights in 2010. Infantino's vision may not turn into reality with a diplomatic rift going on between the Gulf countries Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar, who have isolated the host nation and have denied airspace since June last year.
There have been suggestions that an expanded 48 team tournament could lead to some matches being hosted by neighbouring countries, as a means of easing the diplomatic standoff.
- How Riyad Mahrez adds a new dimension to Manchester City
- Why the UEFA Nations League is what international football needed
- The King gave his Power, and the throne will always be indebted to Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha
Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of the of the 2022 Qatar “supreme committee” organising the World Cup, has previously said the country could be receptive to doing that, and that the possibility of expanding the tournament is being examined.
“We are still looking at the feasibility studies and we will be in a better position to provide a feedback in the future,” al-Thawadi told AFP. “But it will be decided before the qualifications ... sometime in the first quarter of next year.”
Initially, Qatar had refused the mere possibility of the expansion but as it seems with rigorous planning and repairing diplomatic ties, this might become a reality.
Published: Wed Oct 31, 2018 07:39 PM IST