Fifa abandons plans to expand 2022 World Cup to 48 teams

Samuel Lovett

Fifa has dropped its plans to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams and host a number of games in neighbouring countries.

President Gianni Infantino, who had been pushing for the tournament to be expanded from 32 teams, has accepted that his proposal would be too challenging to implement.

The sport's world ruling body said in statement: "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.

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"The Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 will, therefore, remain as originally planned with 32 teams."

Fifa had been exploring if logistical and political complexities could be overcome to expand the tournament, which would have required at least one more country being used in the Persian Gulf to accommodate an additional 16 matches in the region.

A Fifa internal report in March concluded that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia cannot join as co-hosts unless they restore the economic and travel ties with Qatar that were severed two years ago.

Fifa concluded that it lacked to the time to prepare a country to host the extra games.

The regional diplomatic crisis left neutral Kuwait and Oman as the viable options. Oman has said it isn't keen on hosting games at the Fifa showpiece.

The 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, is scheduled to feature 48 teams.

Additional reporting by AP

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