Most football associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighboring countries, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.
Infantino told a news conference the Qataris were open to the larger format. FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over, he said.
FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.
“Most football association across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams,” he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year’s World Cup after failing to qualify.
However, Qatar cannot host the 48 teams on its own. “If it is possible to organize a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighboring countries, that will be great,” he said.
This will be hard since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017, complicating the prospect of sharing the tournament.
Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.