FIFA mulls expanding 2022 World Cup to 48 teams
Miami, March 16 (IANS) The 2022 football Qatar World Cup may see an expansion from 32 to 48 teams, the FIFA President Giovanni Infantino, has said.
"We have published to our council members a feasibility study which is quite a thorough document, where we came to the conclusion that, yes, it is feasible to move the World Cup in 2022 from 32 to 48 teams.
"Provided certain conditions are met," Infantino said here during a meeting of the FIFA Council in Miami.
FIFA decided in 2018 that the 2026 World Cup, to be hosted by the US, Canada and Mexico, would use the new 48-team format, reports Efe news.
The feasibility study has identified potential venues in Qatar's neighbourhood Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates that could host the 16 additional matches.
However, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE must first drop a diplomatic blockade they instituted against Qatar in 2017, for the expansion to happen.
"So, to be very clear, today we have a World Cup in Qatar of 32 teams," Infantino said.
"However, since we decided in January 2017 that we should increase the number, we are seeing whether it is possible/feasible to anticipate this in 2022," the FIFA chief said.
"If it is feasible, if it is possible, great. If it is not feasible, if it is not possible, great," he said.
A final decision will be made at the FIFA Congress in Paris in June, coinciding with the Women's World Cup, Infantino said.
Expanding the field to 48 teams would create three additional berths for Europe, an extra four each for Africa and Asia, three more spots for North and Central America. And the first time, Oceania would get a guaranteed slot.