Then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter announces Qatar as host nation for the 2022 World Cup. (Reuters: Christian Hartmann)
CAIRO – 15 March 2019: FIFA's ruling council has not ruled out expanding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams but a final decision will probably be pushed back until June, a source close to world football's governing body told Reuters on Thursday.
This comes amid investigation calls against FIFA into a secret $100m TV deal offered by Qatar’s state-run broadcaster al-Jazeera three weeks before it awarded the 2022 World Cup to the country.
The allegations were first made in a book, Whatever It Takes – the Inside Story of the Fifa Way, by a whistleblower from inside Australia’s failed 2022 bid, Bonita Mersiades, in January 2018.
FIFA's feasibility study on the tournament envisages some additional games in an expanded World Cup possibly being held in other countries, with Kuwait and Oman mentioned as options.
A deep political and economic rift in the Gulf complicates the prospects of sharing the tournament.
The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and non-Gulf state Egypt cut political, trade, and transport ties with Qatar in June, 2017. The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.
While Qatari organizers are working with FIFA on further studies of the options, they retain a veto over any change to the tournament, which is schedule for November 2022.