(WFI) FIFA’s President says he will ask to expand the 2022 World Cup at the upcoming Congress in Moscow.
Gianni Infantino confirmed the plan during a round of interviews he did at the federation’s headquarters. Infantino says he will speak of the plan at the 2018 Congress in Moscow, but any final decision on the increase to a 48-team tournament will be reached next year.
FIFA’s boss cast some doubt on Qatar capability of hosting an expanded World Cup, saying “whether this is possible to be done…is a question mark”.
“Perhaps it’s possible to organize a 48-team World Cup only in Qatar,” Infantino added. “They could surprise us.
“We’ll need more stadiums, that’s clear. [Qatar] had initially planned to build 12 stadiums. It’s in four years, it’s not set in stone.”
Most experts have concluded that a 48-team World Cup would pose such a logistical challenge for small country like Qatar that other nations would have to be included as co-hosts of the 2022 event to add four extra stadiums the Qataris do not plan to build.
Qatar’s diplomatic problems with neighbors Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have led to suggestions that Iran could be drafted in to absorb some of the 2022 World Cup games.
“I think I have good relations with everyone in the (Gulf) region because I focus on football, and not on politics,” Infantino said.
The Swiss president has dismissed those critical of him for suggesting the World Cup expansion as early as the 2022 tournament, rather than the 2026 event as originally planned.
“I’m not selling football’s soul. I don’t have the right to do it and if I had it, I wouldn’t do it, of course. No one is selling anything,” Infantino added.
“I ask you to judge [the expansion] when it’s done. It’s at that moment that we’ll be able to say whether it’s a good or bad idea,” he added.
Infantino also discussed the new format for Club World Cup as part of a $25 billion offer by unidentified investors to enter a 12-year partnership to run that tournament as well as a global Nations League.
“It’s fantastic,” Infantino said. “We should be proud and happy for that. We need to get away in FIFA from having just one tournament, one month, every four years and thinking that this is enough to develop football in the world.”
That $25 billion offer will not be discussed again until after the Russian World Cup.
“For me, there’s nothing wrong in debating new ideas. We already know what we have. But we shouldn’t stop ourselves from opening our minds.”
Hompage photo: Wikimedia
By INSIDER Javier Monne
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