Wednesday marks exactly four years to the kickoff of the next World Cup in Qatar, which could yet be the first 48-team tournament if FIFA president Gianni Infantino gets his way.
The head of world football’s governing body has been pressing in recent weeks for the 2022 finals to expand from the 32 teams in Russia this year to 48, even though it was previously planned that the expansion of the World Cup would happen when Canada, Mexico and the United States jointly host the 2026 finals.
“We are looking at it. If it is possible, why not?” Infantino said last month. “We are discussing with our Qatari friends, we are discussing with our many other friends in the region and we hope that this can happen.”
Qatar have not yet responded to the idea but previously have sounded cautious about the country’s capacity to go beyond a 32-team tournament.
Organizers are building only eight stadiums for the one-month tournament, which has been controversially pushed back to late in the year because of the fierce summer heat. It kicks off on Nov. 21, 2022 with the final on Dec. 18.
Any expansion would mean Qatar possibly sharing some matches with their neighbors but the country is the subject of an economic blockade imposed by four of them.
In mid-2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport and trade links with Doha, because of its ties with terrorism and Iran.
It has meant Qatar has had to dig into its deep pockets to find alternative trading partners and, in vain, keep its World Cup preparations on track.
“Personally, as president of FIFA, I would be very happy if some matches could be shared with some countries in the region,” said Infantino, adding that “Football unites, builds bridges; that could be a concrete result.”
Qatar is the smallest country to host the finals, with the distance between the two furthest venues a mere 72 kilometers.
Also, a year's worth of rain that showered the desert state lately have again raised questions over the ability of Qatar's infrastructure to host the tournament.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر