FIFA president Gianni Infantino has raised the prospect of expanding the next edition to 48 teams, with a decision to be announced in June
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is expected to be a 32-team competition, the campaign’s CEO Nasser Al-Khater has said amid talk that it could be expanded.
After 20 years as a 32-team tournament, the World Cup will consist of an extra 16 sides from the 2026 tournament, which will be hosted in USA, Mexico and Canada.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has opened the possibility of expanding the 2022 edition, too, and spreading it out across several countries in the Middle East, with Oman and Kuwait reported as potential co-hosts.
Although the leader of the 2022 World Cup, Al-Khater, says no final decision has been made about the number of teams competing in Qatar but he expects it to remain at 32.
“Let me make this clear. There is still a feasibility study taking place right now,” he told Goal. “There is also a consultation process that is taking place right now. At the end of the feasibility and the consultancy process, we will be presented with the findings.
“Ultimately, the decision stays with us – we, with the state of Qatar. The state of Qatar has bid for this as a World Cup of 32 teams in Qatar. The country is still open to looking at the feasibility study. We now, as a joint venture responsible for organising this World Cup, we are working on the plans of a 32-team World Cup in Qatar. Subsequent to that, I think by June we will know the direction that will be taken and at this point, we are working towards a 32-team World Cup in Qatar.”
Al-Khater moved to calm fears around fan safety and hospitality in his country, insisting the country’s laws regarding alcohol will not prevent fans from being able to drink and enjoy themselves.
“We have no doubt that the amount of activities on the entertainment side, on the hospitality side and on the food and beverage side is going to be something unforgettable,” he added.
“However, experiences in the desert that we are paying special attention for the fans to see, as an overall package, we believe it’s going to be something quite unique that the fans will enjoy.
“When it comes to the subject of alcohol, it happens to be a subject that the media has always raised. Yes, Qatar has always been a conservative country. However, Qatar is a hospitable country. Hospitality is in our DNA and we make sure that people will come and visit or who live there feel hospitable.
“We understand that it is in some people’s culture to drink alcohol. Alcohol is legal in Qatar. It might be a little bit more restricted as compared to many other countries. However, it is available. During the World Cup, we will make sure that there are designated areas where people hwo want to enjoy their drink can enjoy their drink.”