FIFA has dropped its plans to expand 2022 World Cup in Qatar from 32 to 48 teams, which means the tournament will remain a 32-team tournament as originally planned, FIFA has announced.
This is due to the fact that with the event just three years away, Qatari organisers did not feel there was enough time to carry out studies on the logistical impact of an expanded competition.
The desert state has been preparing for a 32-team tournament, with eight stadia, since 2010.
Feasibility studies involving neighbouring countries were also carried out but no solutions were found.
“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams,” a statement read.
The 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico will be the first World Cup for 48 finalists.
The statement added: “FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of participant teams from 32 to 48 teams by involving neighbouring countries. Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process… it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.
“Furthermore, 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 English Football Association and the Football Association of Wales both declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Press Association Sport.
The world governing body had earlier considered expanding the event to 48 teams – as is planned for the tournament from 2026 – but this has proved impractical.
By Olukayode Oniwinde