Qatar will host a 32-team World Cup in 2022, FIFA has announced, after football’s international governing body dropped plans to expand the tournament to 48 teams.
FIFA had already decided to increase the size of the World Cup from 2026, but president Gianni Infantino had pushed to bring this expansion forward to the 2022 tournament.
Qatar would have been unable to host a larger tournament on its own, but a blockade of the country by many of its neighbours left Oman and Kuwait as the only viable co-hosts.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is organising the 2022 World Cup, said that after joint analysis with FIFA, “it was decided not to further purse this option.”
The statement added: “With just three and a half years to go until kick off, Qatar remains as committed as ever to ensuring the 32-team FIFA World Cup 2022 is one of the best tournaments ever and one that makes the entire Arab world proud.”
A 48-team tournament would have involved more countries from outside of Europe and South America, but would also have pushed the number of matches from 64 to 80.
A FIFA feasibility study in March found that this could only be accommodated if Qatar shared hosting duties with neighbouring countries.
Infantino had already called for a Gulf-wide World Cup at the Dubai Sports Conference in January, saying: “I know, of course, I’ve read the news, there are some tensions in this particular region and that’s up to the respective leaders to deal with them, but maybe it’s easier to talk about a joint football project than to talk about more complicated things.”