The President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, has advocated for an increase in the size of the football World Cup in Qatar in 2022 to 48 from 32 teams.
Infantino has early revealed that majority of national football federations were in favour of expanding the tournament and a decision was expected ahead of the qualifying draw in March.
He also revealed that the Federation is contemplating the idea of some of Qatar’s Gulf neighbours hosting some of the matches.
While speaking at a sports conference on Wednesday, Infantino revealed that Qatar will not be able to host the expansion alone.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 which has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.
Qatar has since denied the allegation of facilitating terrorism brought against it by the aggrieved nations.
FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams, starting from 2026.
“If you think it’s a good thing to have 48 teams in the World Cup, why not try four years before. That’s why we are analysing whether it’s possible to have 48 teams already in 2022,” Infantino said.
“The World Cup will take place in Qatar with 32 teams. Obviously, if we can increase it to 48 teams and make the world happy, we should try it.”
Qatar said it would not take a final decision on the tournament expansion until it has seen details of a feasibility study from FIFA.
Qatar has moved ahead with ambitious plan to scale up infrastructure ahead of the 2022 tournament that includes $6 billion to $8 billion on eight stadiums and sporting facilities.
“If we can accommodate some of the neighbouring countries in the gulf region, which are very close by, to host a few games in the World Cup this could be very beneficial for the region and the entire world,” Infantino added.
“There is tension in this particular region and it’s up to their respective leaders to deal with that. But maybe it’s easier to talk about a joint football project than more complicated things.
“If it can help all the people in the Gulf and all the countries in the world develop football and bring a positive message to the world about football, then you should give it a try.”