Despite FIFA’s ridiculous decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar in 2022, their President, Gianni Infantino, is pushing to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams. He is that desperate to do so, he has been in Kuwait holding talks about them staging some of the matches, as Qatar wouldn’t be able to hold them all on its own.
Seriously, what is the point of expanding? Not only have they had to move the date to between November and December because of the intense heat, they now want to allow more teams in to a tournament that is already in danger of being a farce.
Infantino has also been meeting with Qatari leaders to discuss the logistical and political complexities of including 16 more teams to the event, a move that would require at least one additional Gulf country to be used as a host.
But the concept is crazy because of the boycott of Qatar by some of its Gulf neighbours. An internal FIFA report found that the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia could not be a joint host unless they restore economic and travel ties with Qatar.
So, FIFA has turned to Kuwait and Oman as potential hosts, who have remained neutral in the diplomatic dispute. However, Oman’s foreign minister has said his country does not have time to prepare to host World Cup games, which just leaves Kuwait as the only viable option.
FIFA’s own feasibility study into expanding the World Cup concluded that two stadiums in at least one additional country would be required to cope with the demand of the extra games. Kuwait City’s Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium has a capacity of 60,000, but the Sabah Al-Salem Stadium can only accommodate 26,000 fans, so requires upgrades.
Qatar is still working on a 32-team tournament and is trying to complete eight stadiums over a 30-mile radius, mainly using foreign workers who have been working in poor conditions.
Infantino said himself that there is only a 50% chance that the 2022 World Cup will see a jump to 48 teams, a move that has already been agreed to happen in 2026 when the USA, Canada and Mexico will be joint hosts. So why is he still pursuing this, or does he just enjoy travelling the world on FIFA expenses?
Football fans from around the globe think Qatar hosting the tournament is a bad idea, but they have moved to bring in an exemption that allows foreign supporters to drink alcohol, a practise usually banned in the country. However, Kuwait has a complete alcohol ban which could be problematic for FIFA and its sponsors, Budweiser being one of the major ones.
Awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a bad idea at the time, but it was a legacy decision left by the former, corrupt head of football, Sepp Blatter. But Mr Infantino should not make a bad idea worse by trying to get more teams involved in this sham.