FIFA should if possible increase the size of the football World Cup in Qatar in 2022 to 48 from 32 teams , the global governing body ’ s president Gianni Infantino has said .
Last month , Infantino said a majority of national football federations were in favour of expanding the tournament and a decision was expected ahead of the qualifying draw in March .
Infantino , speaking at a sports conference on Wednesday , also said FIFA was seeing whether it would be possible for some of Qatar ’ s Gulf neighbours to host some of the matches .
He said last month that it would be “ difficult ” to stage an expanded tournament in Qatar alone.
Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates ( UAE ) , Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 which has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament .
The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism .
However , the tiny but wealthy Arab nation has since denied this.
FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams , starting from 2026 .
But , since then , Infantino has been mulling the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022 .
“ If you think it ’ s a good thing to have 48 teams in the World Cup, why not try four years before. That’ s why we are analysing whether it ’ s possible to have 48 teams already in 2022 , ” Infantino said .
“ The World Cup will take place in Qatar with 32 teams . Obviously , if we can increase it to 48 teams and make the world happy , we should try it . ”
Qatar said it would not take a final decision on the tournament expansion until it has seen details of a feasibility study from FIFA.
The study is expected to discuss aspects of scheduling , the number of required venues , training sites , and how many games per day would be played under an expanded format .
Qatar has moved ahead with ambitious plan to scale up infrastructure ahead of the 2022 tournament that includes $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion on eight stadiums and sporting facilities .
“ If we can accommodate some of the neighbouring countries in the gulf region , which are very close by , to host a few games in the World Cup this could be very beneficial for the region and the entire world , ” Infantino added .
“ There is tension in this particular region and it ’ s up to their respective leaders to deal with that . But maybe it ’ s easier to talk about a joint football project than more complicated things .
“ If it can help all the people in the Gulf and all the countries in the world develop football and bring a positive message to the world about football , then you should give it a try . ”
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