How many teams will contest the 2022 World Cup finals?
The 2022 World Cup finals are due to kick-off at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Iconic Stadium – still in planning – in Lusail, Qatar, on November 21, 2022. At the time of writing, in April, 2018, the Qatari Football Association (QFA) is working on a 32-team tournament, featuring a total of 64 matches, although Gianni Infantino, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), will be seeking approval to expanding the tournament to 48 teams, and 80 matches, at the annual FIFA Congress. Indeed, a feasibility study conducted by FIFA has already identified the need for two additional stadiums – in addition to the minimum of eight already in planning, or under construction – in one or more countries in the Gulf if the World Cup is extended.
Of course, Qatar is still subject to a diplomatic, economic and travel embargo from its Gulf neighbours Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, among other countries so, with the Sultanate of Oman ruling itself out as a World Cup co-host, Infantino is rapidly running out of options. Kuwait, which has remained neutral during the diplomatic crisis, is the only viable alternative, but has no stadiums that meet FIFA standards and has additional human rights and cultural issues, including a complete ban on alcohol, to contend with, not to mention a national team ranked lower than Mauritius or Tahiti.