The world’s governing football body, FIFA, is set to sum up the results of an assessment next month on the possibility of expanding the number of participating teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from 32 to 48, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura told TASS on Wednesday, ONA reports.
Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup between November 21 and December 18 at seven venues across the country, namely in Doha, Lusail, Al-Wakrah, Al-Khor, Al-Rayyan, Umm Salal and Madinat ash Shamal.
"To expand the World Cup from 32 to 48-team you need more than 8 stadiums," Samoura, who is currently paying a visit to Russia, said in an interview with TASS. "Today the commitment for Qatar is to deliver eight stadiums. If we have to do the expanded World Cup there will be four additional stadiums that will be needed."
"FIFA has been tasked by the Council to undertake a possibility assessment to see how in a complex geopolitical situation we can still deliver the World Cup at 48 and the study will communicate its final result during the next Council meeting in Miami on the 15th of March," she said.
Qatar won the right to host the matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup on December 2, 2010.
In March 2015, FIFA officially announced that the 22nd edition of FIFA’s flagship event would be played in November and December 2022, with the final match set for December 18, 2022 - Qatar National Day - and with the objective, in principle, of holding the tournament for 28 days.
Speaking about the initiative to increase the number of participating nations to 48, Samoura said "For the 2026 [World Cup] it’s already done. It’s already agreed that the World Cup will be expanded to 48."
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the first in history to see an enlarged format of 48 participating teams and will be held in 23 cities - Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey in Mexico; Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal in Canada. The United States offered the following cities: New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Boston, Cincinnati, Nashville, Atlanta, Orlando, Miami, Houston, the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolitan area, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Kansas City and Seattle.
A decision to increase the number of national teams participating in the World Cup from the current number of 32 to a total of 48 was unanimously approved by the FIFA Council at its Zurich session in January 2017.
The new arrangement comes into force staring with the 2026 world football championship and stipulates a total of 16 groups with three national teams in each competing for the World Cup trophy.
The initiative to enlarge the participating format was voiced by FIFA President Gianni Infantino in 2016 during his election campaign for the post of the organization’s president, but he initially proposed the number of 40 national teams.