The decision on whether to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams will not be taken unilaterally by either global football governing body FIFA or host nation Qatar, the tournament's chief executive said Saturday. "The decision to expand the game will only take place between FIFA and Qatar at the agreement of both parties," said Nasser al-Khater, CEO of the local organizing committee.
"Or if it remains at 32, it takes place by the agreement of both parties." "No one will unilaterally take this decision," he told a media briefing in Doha. A decision is expected at the FIFA congress in Paris on June 5 on whether the next tournament will be expanded to include 48 teams or will remain at 32.
"We are studying it, we are looking at it, we want to do what is best for football," al-Khater said. "But the planning right now goes to 32 teams." The expansion could mean adding another host, with possibilities being Oman and Kuwait, amid a boycott imposed by Qatar's other Gulf neighbors since 2017.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – alongside Egypt – have cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge denied by Doha. Qatar inaugurated its first stadium built from scratch for the World Cup 2022 on Thursday. Al-Janoub stadium, formerly known as al-Wakra, has around 40,000 seats. It has six more stadiums to finish. The country has also finalized all required training sites.