The FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Wednesday that the football’s governing body is looking at the possibility of increasing the number of teams at the 2022 World Cup and sharing the hosting rights of an expanded tournament with other nations in the region.
FIFA early this year decided to expand the 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, to 48 teams from 32 while leaving the door open to raising the number playing in Qatar in four years’ time.
We are possibly looking at it happening in 2022. Infantino said an expanded tournament would see Asia’s allocation rise to 8.5 places from 4.5.
“We have to see if it is possible, if it is feasible. 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,” he added.
“And, if not, we will have tried. We will have tried because we always have to try to do things in a better way.”
Qatar, with a population of 2.5 million people, was awarded the hosting rights in late 2010 and has been planning for a 32-team tournament since then.
Infantino acknowledged that to increase the number of teams in 2022 would require the cooperation of other countries in the region.
Qatar, has however been in dispute with several of its neighbours since June last year – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt cutting diplomatic, transport and trade ties, accusing Doha of financing terrorism. Qatar rejects all the charges.