The FIFA Council has approved working with Qatar on the possibilities of adding a Persian Gulf Country to co-host matches with Qatar in a 48 teams 2022 World Cup.
Speaking in a press conference on Friday March 15, 2019 in Miami after a FIFA Council meeting, FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino said FIFA was working on the possibility of adding another Persian Gulf country to host matches in the expanded 48 teams 2022 World Cup.
A FIFA feasibility study identified five possible countries which could host matches in the world that will be enlarged from 32 to 48 teams.
FIFA plans to work with Qatar to come up with a proposal which will will be looked into in June when th Congress meets with the Council in Paris in June ahead of the 2019 FIFA female World Cup.
Initially, FIFA had proposed to have an enlarged 48 teams World Cup in 2026 when the tournament will be co-hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico.
Details of the FIFA feasibility study shows that FIFA will not force Qatar to share their hosting rights with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, unless those countries restored diplomatic and traveling rights with Doha.
Given that Kuwait and Oman have been neutral in the ongoing conflict between Qatar and her Persian Gulf neighbors, they are considered as strong possibilities to host matches in the enlarged World Cup in 2022, although FIFA still have reserves over their infrastructure and this infrastructure was only briefly assessed in the FIFA feasibility report.
Despite a strong opposition from European countries, FIFA has decided to introduce a 24 teams pilot tournament of an enlarged club World Cup in 2021.
A quadrennial version will be launched in June – July 2021, to replace the current seven teams club World Cup played every December.
According to FIFA’s President, five members of the Council did not attend the meeting, the first for FIFA’s leadership in the USA, since America’s law enforcement arrested many of FIFA’s top officials for corruption after the famous FIFA-gate in 2015.
Whether this increase in teams will benefit Africa and the other continents which are yet to impress in the competition is difficult to tell, but at least Mr Infantino has always reminded the world that the idea for the increase was hatched in a meeting he had with African football legend Samuel Eto’o in Qatar.