Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Federation Internationale de Football Association recommends expanding Qatar 2022 to 48 teams

FIFA mulls proposal for 24-team Club World Cup; Concacaf would get 3 slots FIFA to go ahead with Club World Cup revamp despite opposition from Europe's top clubs
Frederick Owens | 16 March, 2019, 14:15

"UEFA shares the ECA's view that the worldwide match calendar in 2021 does not provide any realistic option to stage a 24-team Club World Cup and that it should furthermore not be played at a time when players should have a well-deserved rest period", European football's governing body said in a statement.

The FIFA council confirmed on Friday that they would work with Qatar over a possible expansion that would be achieved with the introduction of a co-host, with a feasibility study showing it can be done.

But, perhaps most notably, the FIFA Council also approved plans for a new 24-team Club World Cup to begin in 2021, despite Europe's top clubs warning they would boycott such a tournament.

"The process is now entering its next stage, in which, together, FIFA and Qatar will explore this possibility further and analyse if a joint expansion proposal that meets all the necessary requirements can be submitted to the FIFA Council and the FIFA Congress in June". "After these consultations, the final decision will be made by Qatar and Federation Internationale de Football Association".

Members had already agreed to expand the original 32-team format to 48 teams for the 2026 World Cup, but it had been claimed Infantino wanted to bring the change forward to 2022.

"Now the world will see a real Club World Cup where fans will see the best teams in the world compete to be crowned the real world champions", he said.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will need to end their diplomatic blockade of Qatar launched in 2017 if they want to be involved, FIFA's feasibility study said.

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He said he believed a 48-team World Cup in 2022 in Qatar is "feasible", adding: 'If it happens, fantastic. "We have to analyse matters carefully and we are working closely with Qatar".

The tournament - which is presently limited to seven participants - will be moved from its usual December window to the months of June and July.

An ECA spokesman told AFP: "ECA clubs will not participate in the Club World Cup in 2021 and will assess participation in the Club World Cup in 2024". "We want to have an exciting competition, we want to have a prestigious competition, we want to have an inclusive competition and we will have this in the new Club World Cup starting in 2021".

According to a Federation Internationale de Football Association document seen by the AP, the governing body's council will be asked on Friday to approve a trial 24-team Club World Cup running from June 17-July 4, 2021.

Video assistant referees have also been approved for this year's Women's World Cup, which starts in France on June 7.

The FIFA Council also chose to use VAR video review technology at June's Women's World Cup in France.

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