Latest Football News – The Qatari World Cup will take place with 32 teams and not 48. Indeed, FIFA has officially abandoned plans to expand the World Cup 2022 in Qatar to 48 teams on Wednesday in the early evening. The announcement of FIFA came a few hours after the revelations of the British newspaper The Times.
The World Cup at 48 is not for the 2022 edition. FIFA has indeed officially abandoned the idea of extending the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams from the 2022 edition of the competition, to be held in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December. First revealed by the British daily The Times, Wednesday afternoon, the information was confirmed in the evening by FIFA which issued an official statement.
The reasons given are of a logistic nature. In its statement, FIFA explained that it had worked closely with Qatar to receive more selections in the best possible conditions. The guiding idea was to directly involve neighboring countries in organizing the World Cup. A measure too late and finally impossible to implement. This will only be a partial delivery, the passage to 48 being already validated for the World 2026, co-organized by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
“FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of teams from 32 to 48 by involving neighboring countries,” said FIFA’s statement. “Following a thorough consultation process (…) it was concluded that in the present circumstances such a proposal could not be implemented”. FIFA and Qatar have “also studied the possibility for Qatar to host the tournament to 48 teams including lowering the requirements of FIFA,” adds the authority. But a joint analysis concluded that “because of the progress of the preparations, more time was needed and a decision could not be made until June, so it was decided not to go further in this option”.
A geopolitical problem
FIFA, which voted in May at a meeting of its Council in Miami in favor of this expansion to 48 teams, based on a feasibility study, had recorded the transition from 32 to 48 teams from 2022 to the agenda of its next congress on June 5 in Paris before changing on Wednesday. “No proposal will be submitted to the FIFA Congress on June 5 in Paris,” added the instance. Gianni Infantino’s project was facing a major geopolitical obstacle with the blockade imposed on Qatar by several neighboring countries.
“The involvement of these countries in the organization of the tournament jointly with Qatar implies the lifting of this blockade, in particular the lifting of restrictions on the movement of people and goods,” said the feasibility study submitted in May to the members of the FIFA Council.
This feasibility study consulted by AFP, also ensured that a World Cup in Qatar with 48 teams instead of 32 would generate “between 300 and 400 million dollars (between 265 and 354 million euros) additional revenue” . In detail, FIFA was counting on an additional $ 120 million in TV rights, 150 in marketing rights and 90 in ticketing. Marketers and TV rights, however, said they were “skeptical” about FIFA’s “optimistic” forecasts of these additional revenues.
A failure for Infantino who will leave for a second term
This announcement sounds like a failure for Infantino, who has struggled all over the world to defend his project, apparently with the support of Saudi Arabia. At the same time, Italo-Suisse is continuing its plans for the 24-team World Club Cup starting in 2021, which UEFA does not support.
“Football certainly transcends many obstacles but Infantino did not understand that football could not transcend geopolitical conflicts,” says a good connoisseur of world football. “Very few people believed in this Infantino project, so seeing FIFA give it up is not a huge surprise,” he added.
At the helm of FIFA since February 2016 when he succeeded Sepp Blatter forced to resign because of a vast corruption scandal, Infantino, the only candidate, is guaranteed to be elected for a second term on June 5 during the FIFA Congress in Paris.
The latest expansion in the number of World Cup participants dates from the 1998 edition, with the transition from 24 to 32 countries competing. The colossal addition of 16 teams was voted unanimously by the FIFA Council on January 10, 2017, and signed for 2026. But Gianni Infantino had been campaigning for several months to make this enlargement of the competition effective as early as 2022. His crazy dream ended his run against a wall.