MOSCOW — Qatari organizers of the 2022 World Cup say they’re open to talks about a 48-team tournament, and can see a format to host it alone.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s wish to add 16 extra teams in 2022 was seen as pushing Qatar toward letting neighbouring states into a co-hosting plan.
In Moscow last month, pressure on Qatar was eased when the Infantino-chaired FIFA Council agreed the host nation’s consent was a “precondition” for change.
A senior Qatari official on Saturday said a 48-team tournament could be staged using just the eight stadiums in and around Doha.
“Yes, it’s doable, we just need to figure out how it is done,” Nasser Al Khater, the assistant secretary general Tournament Affairs, told reporters. “If the format is done right, it could actually be an edition that is exciting.”
Though Qatar is willing to negotiate, the veto power it apparently gained is key to any progress on the tournament expansion.
“If we feel that it’s not in favour of us or of football, we won’t go for it,” Al Khater said at the opening of a Qatari hospitality house in Moscow’s Gorky Park. “If the format of a 48-team World Cup is an exciting format, and it doesn’t follow the traditional type of format, yeah, why not? It might add an exciting new element.”
One option stands out. A playoff round involving 32 nations from which 16 winners would join 16 seeded teams in a traditional group stage.
“Maybe it’s a sudden death, one game sudden death and you’re out, and maybe it happens before the rest of the teams come,” Al Khater said.
That …read more