Federation Internationale de Football Association says 48-team tournament 'feasible'

  • Federation Internationale de Football Association says 48-team tournament 'feasible'

Federation Internationale de Football Association says 48-team tournament 'feasible'

The FIFA Council on Friday approved working with Qatar to explore expanding the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams by adding at least one more country in the Persian Gulf to host matches.

A final decision is due to be made at the meeting of FIFA Congress in Paris in June.

The 2026 World Cup, which will be by the United States, Canada and Mexico, will be 48 teams, but FIFA President Gianni Infantino wants to expand the next edition of the tournament.

The study identified venues in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that could be used but said Qatar would have to approve which nations it would partner with.

The three countries have imposed a land, sea and air embargo on the peninsula, in the Gulf's worst diplomatic crisis in years.

The Fifa Council earlier agreed to introduce a pilot tournament of an enlarged 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 despite European opposition.

The Club World Cup is now an annual seven-team tournament which attracts minimal interest in Europe - the centre of the football business.

The letter, viewed by the AP, was signed by top executives from 14 leading European clubs, including ECA head Andrea Agnelli of Juventus.

The signatories said they are "firmly against any approval of a revised Club World Cup at this point in time and confirm that no ECA clubs would take part to such a competition".

The ECA added that any talk of a new competition must be made in conjunction with approval of a new framework for the Federation Internationale de Football Association worldwide match calendar after 2024.

Infantino added that club football was "evolving at a different pace in different parts of the world" and it was Fifa's duty to put on an "exciting, prestigious and inclusive competition, and we'll have that with this Club World Cup, starting in 2021".

Infantini said: 'Now the world will see a real Club World Cup where fans will see the best teams in the world compete to be crowned the real world champions. European club seasons typically start around mid-August.

In the first edition, South America would have six slots - one based on previous performances.

The new tournament would be projected to include three teams from Concacaf, although available information does not indicate how teams would qualify. The confederations would decide their own qualification process. Teams would play two to five matches over a maximum of 18 days.

However, even before Friday's meeting of the ruling FIFA Council, Infantino was forced to drop the Nations League plan.

Video review has been approved for the Women's World Cup, which runs from June 7 to July 7.

It will be the first time VAR has been used at the tournament, having made its debut in the men's World Cup previous year in Russian Federation.

Male VAR operators are likely to assist all-female teams of referees and assistants given no domestic women's competition uses video review.

No senior women's domestic or global competitions use VAR.