Moscow: The organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are open to talks about a 48-team tournament, and can see a format to host it alone.
Fifa President Gianni Infantino’s wish to add 16 extra teams to the tournament was seen as pushing Qatar toward letting other states into a co-hosting plan at a time with sanctions from their Gulf neighbours in place.
In Moscow last month, pressure on Qatar was eased when the Infantino-chaired Fifa Council agreed that the host nation’s consent was a “precondition” for change.
A senior Qatari official said Saturday a 48-team tournament could be staged using only the eight stadiums in and around Doha.
“Yes, it’s doable, we just need to figure out how it is done,” said Nasser Al Khater, the assistant secretary general for organisers Tournament Affairs. “If the format is done right, it could actually be an edition that is exciting.”
Although Qatar is willing to negotiate, the veto power it apparently gained is key to any progress on the tournament expansion.
“If we feel that it’s not in favour of us or of football, we won’t go for it,” Al Khater said at the opening of a Qatari hospitality house in Moscow’s Gorky Park. “If the format of a 48-team World Cup is an exciting format, and it doesn’t follow the traditional type of format, yeah, why not? It might add an exciting new element.”