Concerned by political and logistical impediments, FIFA will face resistance in Qatar to attempts to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams and spread games across the Persian Gulf, people with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino was given the backing of the governing body’s ruling council on Friday to pursue his mission to enlarge the 2022 tournament from 32 to 48 teams, requiring at least two more stadiums in at least one additional country.
FIFA and Qatar have until June to come up with a joint proposal to present to the congress of soccer nations, but the concept is mired in complexities stemming from the boycott of Doha by neighbors, tension highlighted in a report considered by the council Friday.
During this next phase of the consultation process, FIFA will face Doha-based World Cup organizers highlighting potentially insurmountable issues involved in adding more venues outside of Qatar and hope the concept collapses, people with knowledge of the talks told the AP. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because public statements on this topic were not authorized.
While the Doha officials involved in the World Cup want to keep it as a purely Qatari event, FIFA is also negotiating on a political level — making direct contact with the country’s emir, who hasn’t publicly discussed the sharing concept.
After coming under pressure from human rights groups since winning FIFA’s hosting rights vote in 2010, Qatar was forced to improve worker rights and improve labor conditions. FIFA has told potential new co-hosts they have to provide human rights guarantees, which have yet to be specified publicly. FIFA Vice President Greg Clarke of England raised the issue in Friday’s council meeting.