FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s hopes of expanding 2022 Qatar World Cup were shattered by the regional diplomatic crisis and FIFA’s demands on host nations to meet its human and labor rights requirements.
Infantino was one of the few advocates of expanding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams, and the decision to drop the plan is a slap in the face for the leader of world football, observers say.
The decision taken by FIFA to abandon plans to expand 2022 World Cup from 32 to 48 countries competing in the global tournaments in three years' time was a setback for Infantino who has headed FIFA since 2016.
Infantino had pushed the plan, arguing that it would expand football's reach across the globe.
"Of course it is not easy. But we have already taken the decision to play with 48 teams in 2026. So why not try it before then?" Infantino said.
In the end, despite his dangling of the carrot of increased revenues with an enlarged tournament, his plan was defeated by the hard realities of global politics.
"Infantino is paying for his arrogance," one analyst said.