World Cup: FIFA announces it will not expand Qatar 2022 from 32 to 48 teams
The 2026 World Cup in North America will be the first to expand to 48 participants
FIFA will soon expand the men's World Cup to 48 teams, but it won't happen as soon as many expected. On Tuesday, soccer's international governing body announced that it has scrapped its proposal to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams. In other words, Qatar 2022 will be the seventh consecutive World Cup featuring 32 teams, and the 2026 tournament hosted by the United States, Mexico and Canada will be the first to feature 48 participants.
Here's more from FIFA's announcement:
Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.
Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements. A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June. It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.
The expansion would have consisted of 16 additional matches and Qatar would have had to share hosting duties with neighboring countries. Kuwait and Oman were looked at as options to host, but there was not enough time to work out a deal. According to the Associated Press, the political tensions in the region also played a factor into FIFA president Gianni Infantino's decision.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino's hopes of expanding the Middle East's first World Cup in the region were stymied by the regional diplomatic crisis and the governing body's demands on host nations to adhere to its human and labor rights requirements.
The proposal was meant to be made official by Infantino at the 69th FIFA Congress on June 5 in Paris.
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be the first World Cup scheduled to take place in the winter in order to avoid any issues with extreme heat in the summer. The tournament will be played in a record 28 days, starting on Nov. 21 and ending on Dec. 18 with the final.
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