World football governing body, FIFA, has hinted that the next edition of its flagship tournament, the FIFA World Cup, which would be held in Qatar would feature 32 countries, and not 48 being proposed.
This was contained in a four-paragraph statement released on FIFA website on Wednesday evening.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino has been looking at the possibility of increasing the number of participating nations from 32 to 48, but issues with cost and logistics had made the idea of Qatar hosting such large entourage without the support of countries in the region impossible.
The statement said, “In line with the conclusions of the feasibility study approved by the FIFA Council at its last meeting, FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of participant teams from 32 to 48 teams by involving neighboring countries at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.’’
“Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.
“Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering 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 the option.
It said .“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ will, therefore, remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June.’’
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, scheduled to hold between 21 November and 18 December 2022 to compensate for the hot conditions in the region at that time of the year, would be the first World Cup to be held outside the summer.