Sports

Qatar 2022 World Cup to be contested by 32 teams as Fifa drops expansion plans

FIFA, NFF

World Football governing body, FIFA has dropped its plans to expand the number of teams to contest the 2022 edition of the World Cup billed to hold in Qatar.

Fifa had planned to begin the 48-team expanded World Cup in 2026, but explored the option of beginning the new format four years earlier.

The change would have required Qatar to share hosting duties with other countries in the region.

But the football body on Wednesday night said after a “thorough and comprehensive consultation process” the change “could not be made now.”

Fifa has decided not to pursue the plans as there was not enough time “for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact.”

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In a statement, the Qatari World Cup organisers shared similar sentiments with the world football body, but assured they will deliver a worthy 32-team tournament in 2022.

“With just three and a half years to go until kick off, Qatar remains as committed as ever to ensuring the 32-team Fifa World Cup in 2022 is one of the best tournaments ever and one that makes the entire Arab world proud,” the statement reads.

As it stands, the expanded World Cup will now be hosted as initially planned at the 2026 edition, billed to be co-hosted by USA, Mexico and Canada.

The expansion in 2026 will see an initial stage of 16 groups of three teams precede a knockout stage for the remaining 32.

The number of tournament matches will rise to 80, from 64, but the eventual winners will still play only seven games.

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