VIDEO SHOWS: FIFA PRESIDENT GIANNI INFANTINO ADDRESSING THE POSSIBILITY OF THE 2022 WORLD CUP EXPANDING TO 48 TEAMS. SHOWS: MARRAKECH, MOROCCO (JANUARY 17, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL) 1.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO, SAYING: "The Qataris are open to the discussion of course but it's not going to be easy to organise a World Cup with 48 countries in Qatar alone because it will be 16 more teams. The idea, if possible, would be to organise some matches outside of Qatar and in bordering countries, but you know here, better than me, the political situation in the Gulf now.
We are lucky that we are in football and not politics so we can have ideas, we can have dreams, and we can propose things, and we can talk with everyone and see a little bit about what we can get and if it is possible." 2.
WHITE FLASH 3.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FIFA PRESIDENT, GIANNI INFANTINO, SAYING: "And if it is possible to organise a World Cup with 48 teams maybe a few games will be played in neighboring countries.
But it will be beautiful anyway [even] if it is not possible because we will have a magnificent World Cup in 2022 in Qatar and we will have to make a decision soon in the next month, because from the start of the season, the summer qualifications for the World Cup 2022 will already begin in some continents, especially in Asia and before qualifying begins we must take the decision.
So, we have until March as a first step and at worst in June when there is the FIFA Congress." STORY: Most football associations in the world back increasing the size of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams from 32, with some matches to be played in neighbouring countries, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said on Thursday (January 17).
Infantino told a news conference the Qataris were open to the larger format.
FIFA would make a decision no later than June, once a feasibility study is over, he said.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar in June 2017 that has complicated the prospect of sharing the tournament.
The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, which it denies.
"We are doing football not politics," Infantino said.
FIFA voted in 2017 to increase the size of the tournament to 48 teams starting from 2026 but, since then, Infantino has been considering the possibility of bringing the change forward to 2022.
"Most football association across the globe hope for opening up the World Cup to more teams," he said, lamenting that continental champions such as Cameroon, Chile and the United States were absent from last year's World Cup after failing to qualify.
"If it is possible to organise a 48-team World Cup in Qatar with some games in neighbouring countries, that will be great," he said.
Infantino said it was "premature" to speak of a planned joint bid from Spain, Portugal and Morocco for the 2030 World Cup, which would be the first time countries from different continents had applied to stage the tournament.
"I welcome all bids.
The more the better," he said.
Infantino was speaking following a FIFA executive summit in Marrakech which brought together some 60 football associations.