International

Infantino plays down hopes of expanded SWC in Qatar

2018-11-07 20:15
Gianni Infantino (Getty Images)

Zurich - FIFA president Gianni Infantino all but wrote off the chances of an expanded 48-team competition at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on Wednesday.

Last month Infantino told the Asian Football Confederation's annual congress in Kuala Lumpur that increasing the number of teams from the 32 that made up the tournament in Russia this year was "feasible".

However he appeared to backtrack on that during an interview with AFP and other media in Zurich.

"I haven't changed my mind," said Infantino.

"I was positive about it from the beginning because I think if we can increase the number of teams it is good for football. That is why we are going to do it for the 2026 World Cup.

"Can we do it for 2022? It is a difficult challenge."

Accommodating another 16 teams would vastly complicate Qatar's task in preparing for the World Cup, which was awarded to the tiny desert state in 2010.

"We are in discussion with Qatar," said Infantino, who said the tournament would need to spread to neighbouring countries.

"It will be a very, very difficult challenge to do it only in Qatar.

"So personally, as president of FIFA, I would be very happy if some matches could be shared with some countries in the region."

The question of regional cooperation has been complicated by Qatar's stand-off with neighbours Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, who have cut off diplomatic relations and imposed a blockade on the resource-rich country, accusing it of endorsing terror activities.

"In the light of current circumstances in the region I would be even happier if it could happen," he said.

"Football unites, builds bridges, that could be a concrete result.

"What are the chances? Certainly small but what is wrong in discussing it?" said Infantino.

A final decision will be made in March at the next FIFA Council in Miami before the draws for qualifying are made.

Read more on:    fifa  |  swc 2022  |  gianni infantino  |  soccer

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
Vote

After slow starts to their respective 2018/19 Absa Premiership campaigns, who will finish the season ranked higher?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.