FIFA says that the next quadrennial football championship at Qatar could see 48 teams participating instead of the customary 32. This would see an increase in the number of Asian countries participating in the World Cup from the current 4.5 (four guaranteed and one play-off place) to 8.5.
This expansion must be in place for the 2022 World Cup says FIFA president Gianni Infantino. FIFA already has plans for the 2026 World Cup to have 48 teams. Now, discussions with Qatar organizers were underway to determine whether this schedule could be advanced. The difficulties in hosting the 2022 tournament are compounded by the fact that Qatar’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have closed air space to Qatar over diplomatic differences.
To ease the diplomatic standoff, some of the matches might be hosted by neighboring countries.
Secretary General of the Qatar 2022 supreme committee Hassan Al-Thawadi told that Qatar is trying to carry the discussions forward and was actively thinking about expanding the teams to 48.
According to officials, the possibility of increase in the number of participating teams by 2022 is more. Difficulties may arise due to large numbers but we will do our best to run a smooth show.
Moreover, the talks are being carried out to make the transition feasible. The FIFA officials are in constant touch with the Qatar colleagues and friends to make it happen.
“Final decisions will be made by the first half of forthcoming year” according to Hassan Al-Thawadi.