A 48-team World Cup in 2022 is a step closer to becoming reality, after a FIFA study found that it would be feasible.
FIFA is now set to make a final decision in June, with the feasibility study finding that the tournament could be expanded from 32 to 48 teams, subject to certain conditions.
A key requirement would be for neighbouring countries to share hosting duties with Qatar, something that FIFA President Gianni Infantino has previously publicly supported.
“We will move to the next stage, we will explore the possibility of who could potentially be hosting some of the Games in the Gulf regions,” he said.
The 2022 World Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East, but Infantino has repeatedly pressed for an expansion to 48 teams.
FIFA agreed to a 48-team tournament from 2026 onwards in 2017.
Official Statement from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy on the ongoing discussions around the possible expansion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar pic.twitter.com/Y8vexGRJXd
— Qatar Football Association 🇶🇦 (@QFA_EN) March 15, 2019
The organising body for the tournament in Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, has been supportive of the feasibility study.
“We will work with FIFA to determine whether or not a viable operating model does exist and importantly, whether it is in the best interests for football and for the tournament, and for Qatar as the host nation,” said a spokesperson for the committee.
Since 2017 many of Qatar’s neighbours have blockaded the country, which has caused difficulties in a variety of sporting contexts, including with broadcast rights for beIN Sports.
The tense diplomatic situation leaves Kuwait and Oman as the only likely co-hosts for an enlarged tournament.