The already controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar could become a ‘Gulf’ regional event with other nations taking games.
FIFA are looking to expand the finals from 32 teams to 48, but instead of 2026 they are now considering bringing that forward to 2022.
Qatar, who will have eight newly built stadiums in place for 2022, could now be asked to share the forthcoming finals with some of their neighbours – which will actually be in the winter of 2022.
The possible extra teams would see the games rise to 80 from 64 and FIFA President Gianni Infantino is looking at options including asking other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to take part but a major issue is that they are all in dispute with Qatar in some way.
“This is something that would probably be a nice message,” Infantino said.
But Nasser Al Khater, deputy secretary general of the organising committee, said: “We need to know pretty soon.
“So we need to understand basically we’re looking to change the format, increase the number of days. Can we do it with eight (stadiums) and increasing the number of days?
“Right now, as of today, we’re hosting a 32 team World Cup. Our infrastructure, our stadiums are all based on the 32-team World Cup. That’s as much as we know and that’s as much as it’s confirmed by now.”
Bookmakers believe that if anyone will come on-board with Qatar it would be the UAE with Coral making them 1/2 favourites to take on the role.
Saudi Arabia is second best in the betting at 2/1 to help host the competition, while Iran is 4/1.
“If the 2022 World Cup is expanded to 48 teams, it looks certain that Qatar will have to share hosting responsibilities and the betting suggests it will be UAE who will be involved,” said Coral’s John Hill.
“We have also taken bets today on Saudi Arabia and Iran becomes hosts in what is sure to be a much longer tournament,” added Hill.