Doha - Qatar Soccer World Cup organisers on Saturday told
FIFA it was "important" to hold talks before any final decision was
taken to expand the 2022 tournament to 48 teams.
In the first response by the Gulf nation since the shock
news that FIFA is looking at bringing forward its plan to increase the number
of World Cup teams by four years, Qatar also said it was confident it could
still deliver a "successful" tournament.
"Before any decision is taken it is important that
discussions are held on the operations and logistics of an increase in size of
the tournament in Qatar," said a spokesperson for Qatar's Supreme
Committee for Delivery & Legacy in a statement.
"Regardless of the outcome - we are confident in our
ability to deliver a successful World Cup in 2022."
Qatar was responding to a request by the South American
Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), which on April 12 at its congress formally
asked FIFA to introduce the plan to expand team numbers in time for Qatar.
Football's governing body had already agreed to enlarge the
tournament from the current 32 teams - which is how many are currently
scheduled to play in Qatar - for the 2026 tournament.
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez made the request in a
letter handed to Gianni Infantino.
The FIFA president has called the proposal a "very
It could however present problems for Qatar.
The tournament has already been shortened to 28 days to
accommodate the switch to playing the tournament in November and December.
By contrast, the World Cup in Russia this year will be
played over 32 days.
Qatar, which is spending $500 million a week on the first
World Cup staged in the Middle East, is currently only planning to use eight
venues in 2022.
Again, by contrast, Russia will use 12.
FIFA is yet to make a final decision on the number of
stadiums to use in 2022.
One solution may be for Qatar, which has called its World
Cup one for the Middle East region, to sanction holding some matches elsewhere
in the Gulf.
However, that is complicated by the fact Qatar is at the
centre of fractious ongoing regional political dispute.
For the past 10 months, the World Cup host has been isolated
by a group of former allied neighbouring countries led by Saudi Arabia which
accuse Doha of supporting terrorism.
Qatar rejects the charges and claims it neighbours want