The meteoric success of 2018 FIFA world cup Russia has once again stamped the popularity of football and its identity as the world’s most famous sport. This ongoing world cup has pumped billions into FIFA’s coffers tempting them to think large and bold about the future.
One such FIFA’s idea of expansion is to increase the teams from 32 to 48 for the 2022 Fifa world cup Doha. This prospect offers lucrative benefits for FIFA as well as to its officials. An increase of 16 teams means additional revenue of $1 billion for FIFA, a perk tough to resist. It also increases South American soccer confederation’s representation to this flagship event by one, making it convenient for the current FIFA president Gianni Infantino to ask for votes in the next year’s elections.
But the plan to increase the number of teams to 48 could be a massive disaster for Qatar who is burning both ends of the candle to ensure their hosting is a success.
A 48-team world cup will increase the number of matches which in turn will need more stadiums to host these games. Qatar is renovating three stadiums and building nine more to host the 2022 FIFA world cup, but for a 48-team world cup, 4 more stadiums will be needed which is an unrealistic demand, considering the fact that the event is only 3 years away.
The bigger tournament will also prove to be a logistic nightmare for Doha. Accommodating squads, officials, media, fans and other stakeholders of 16 more teams will be a Herculean task for Doha and it can even crash its entire infrastructure system.
The tiny Gulf country will most probably find it impossible to expand their infrastructure facilities to accommodate the additional flock of visitors in such a short duration.
The obvious solution to meet the increased demands created by a 48-team world cup will be to rope in services of a neighbouring nation. Several Fifa world cups in the past have been hosted by neighbouring nations but in the case of Qatar, this option does not exist as it has stern relations with its neighbours.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and, United Arab Emirates have already cut ties with Qatar while Kuwait too is on the similar path. This leaves Iran as the only option but Qatar’s national policy won’t allow the hosting rights to be shared with Iran.
Hence although tempting, the prospect of a 48-team world cup looks impossible in the 2022 FIFA world cup Doha but it can certainly be a reality in 2006 as there is a bid for a 48-team world cup.