MUSCAT: As FIFA has concluded that Qatar 2022 World Cup can be expanded, the chances of Oman and Kuwait becoming co-hosts are becoming high.
According to the FIFA media report, after being presented with a thorough feasibility study on the increase of the number of teams from 32 to 48 at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the FIFA Council acknowledged the study’s conclusion that expanding the tournament to 48 teams was feasible, provided that neighbouring countries hosted some matches (with Qatar as the main host country).
“In order to facilitate a 48 team tournament, FIFA and Qatar should consider a co-hosted tournament involving one or more neighbouring host countries. Based on parameters such as confederation membership, geographic proximity, stability, infrastructure and experience of organising previous football tournaments, FIFA has identified the following countries that could potentially co-host the tournament alongside Qatar: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”
The report added, “Implementing a 48 team tournament in 2022 would see each confederation guaranteed a higher slot allocation four years earlier than originally predicted. Due to this sizeable increase, it is expected that most confederations would likely modify their qualification formats. To that end, a few key points must be clarified as soon as possible to enable the qualification formats to be finalised, approved by FIFA and communicated to qualifying member associations, in particular: confirmation of the format and slot allocation, and in the event of a co-hosted tournament, confirmation as to whether some or all new co-hosts would automatically qualify.”
FIFA had already planned to expand the FIFA World Cup to 48 teams from 32 to 48 for the 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly hosted by the US, Mexico and Canada, as part of FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s mandate when he took over the presidency.
The report added that a competition of the standard of the FIFA World Cup can lead to improved performance of the participating teams in future.
“Exposure to the FIFA World Cup also provides teams with higher revenues to invest in football development such as enhancing youth access to the sport. By bringing forward the expansion by one edition (2026 to 2022) it would give more member associations an opportunity to realise the potential benefits that are associated with the FIFA World Cup.”