FIFA President Gianni Infantino has again reiterated that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar could be a 48 team tournament, with the majority of the federations asked during FIFA’s Executive Summit in favour to expand the competition. Raising the prospect of games being shared with neighbouring Gulf countries, some of whom have blockaded Qatar since June 2017.
Infantino has been in Doha over the last three days for the FIFA Executive Football Summits, in which FIFA has canvassed opinion of over 70 federations. Talking at a press conference, Infantino stressed that a feasibility study is still underway and that a decision will be made in March.
“We will see, we will gather the opinions of the federations, many of them are in favour for 48 teams in 2022 as it allows more sides to qualify from each continent.”
It has been suggested that a larger 2022 tournament could see a number of games played in neighbouring countries, however, Infantino was clear that this could be an opportunity to end the political stalemate between Qatar and their Gulf neighbours “Is it feasible or not? Feasible in Qatar maybe not, in neighbouring counties maybe. I am not naive to the political situation.”
“Sometimes in football dreams can come true, and Qatar has been clear that they want to make this World Cup special.”
Although the FIFA chief was clear that the decision to play games in Saudi Arabia will be made between FIFA & Qatar.
“We will take the decision together we are partners, we take ourselves and our decisions much too seriously we are not talking about anything dangerous, we are talking about something nice.”
Will some games be played in neighboring countries? #FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/Gu6a74dNUb— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) December 13, 2018
Infantino also spoke about FIFA’s ongoing legal battle with Saudi based company beOUTQ which illegally broadcasted games from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“Piracy is illegal we don’t like it and we have to fight it. We have to fight it in any way that we can, we have partners and we value our partners.”
The FIFA boss will now head to Abu Dhabi to watch the Club World Cup Final.