FIFA abandons plans to expand 2022 Qatar World Cup to 48 teams

The tournament in Qatar will remain in the current 32-team format

The football World Cup trophy in 2018
Image: FIFA had planned to expand the 2022 tournament to include 48 teams

FIFA has abandoned plans to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to include 48 teams.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino had proposed expanding the tournament but the sport's world ruling body has now determined this is not practical.

FIFA had been exploring if logistical and political complexities could be overcome to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams, which would have required at least one more country being used in the Persian Gulf to accommodate an additional 16 matches in the region.

A FIFA internal report in March concluded that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia cannot join as co-hosts unless they restore the economic and travel ties with Qatar that were severed two years ago.

FIFA headquarters
Image: The 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, is scheduled to feature 48 teams

FIFA said in statement: "Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.

"Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements.

"A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June.

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"It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option."

The 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, is scheduled to feature 48 teams.

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