Qatar World Cup 2022: FIFA Abandon Initial Plans to Extend Tournament to 48 Teams - Sports Illustrated

FIFA have announced they are to bin plans to extend the World Cup from 32 teams to 48 after initially formulating ideas to increase the amount of participating nations.

The president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, wanted to begin the expansion in 2026 but opted to bring the plans forward to the 2022 tournament in Qatar; however, such concepts have now been shelved.

Proposals were also in place play some games in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, although Infantino has reluctantly accepted that it would be beyond the capabilities of the organisation to do so. As a result of the decision, the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico will be the first ever 48-team event.

"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 neighbouring countries at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™," a statement read on FIFA's website

"Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the 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 certain 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 this option.

"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."