The 2022 World Cup is over three years away and there appears to be a little confusion on the number of teams that would participate in the tournament. Initially awarded as a 32 team World Cup to Qatar there have been news that it could be expanded to accommodate teams.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has always been vocal about his support for a 48 team World Cup in the Gulf region but political issues pose the greatest threat. Qatar is currently embroiled in a diplomatic standoff with neighbouring countries UAE, Egypt, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. These countries could easily share games as they have large capacity stadiums but it looks highly unlikely.
One country that FIFA has reached out to is the Sultanate of Oman and according to reports, the country faces a race against time to meet up requirements. FIFA typically enforces a minimum stadium capacity of 40,000 to host games. The national stadium in Muscat Oman holds 29,000 and the country would need to make significant renovations to increase its capacity.
Speaking at the Asian Football Confederation Congress in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday Oman FA president Salem Said Salem Al Wahaibi revealed that the country had received a proposal from FIFA about sharing games.
FIFA are expected to table the 48 team idea in the next FIFA Congress slated for June in which a final decision would be agreed upon.
Despite currently falling short of requirements Al Wahaibi hopes that arrangements can be made to ensure the country experiences the World Cup in 2022. He believes that this would be a massive gift for the young generation in the Oil rich country.
Oman has never qualified for the tournament or hosted a major footballing event in their history. Kuwait have also been touted as another country being considered to host some matches in the World Cup.
It would be interesting to see what decision is reached during the next FIFA Congress as Qatar maintains that a 32 team World Cup is what they’re planning for.