Qatar is currently facing many difficulties in hosting the 2022 World Cup, after FIFA announced a proposal to increase the number of teams participating in the World Cup to 48 instead of 32, putting the small country in a difficult position.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is still pushing towards his plan to expand tournament teams and potentially share hosting duties, although no decision has yet been made. Nobody knows yet how many extra slots each region will be allocated throughout Asia.
On Wednesday April 17th, the first phase of Asia’s qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup finals was completed, despite the continent’s uncertainty on how many teams will be represented in Qatar. However, it is expected that Asia will have an additional 4.5% of teams that will participate.
Regarding FIFA’s effort to expand tournament teams, Oman and Kuwait were approached as potential co-hosts. However, Oman has already rejected FIFA’s overtures, which adds more pressure on Qatar to wait for Kuwait’s decision.
Kuwait has not yet responded to the offer. Although Infantino made a visit on Sunday April 14th, no official announcement was made about the details.
Experts think that three years are not enough to enable Kuwait to be prepared for such a huge event and it will probably take the same decision as Oman.
Meanwhile, reports say that Qatar was seeking an alternative in case Kuwait declines. The reports suggest that the Gulf country will probably suggest Turkey as a co-host of the tournament as this would be the best option to rescue the situation in favour of Doha.
Turkey supported Qatar when Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates all cut diplomatic ties and began a boycott of Qatar in June 2017 for allegedly supporting and funding terrorism.
Since then, Turkey has received huge contracts from Qatar for infrastructure and building facilities that will host the World Cup, with a budget estimated to be 14 billion US dollars.
Reports said that bringing in Turkey to deal with the World Cup issue will help Qatar gain power in its diplomatic relations against other Gulf countries. Furthermore, according to the reports, it will help Turkish president Erdogan to restore the popularity that he has recently been losing.
There are less than two months left for FIFA to announce if there will be countries co-hosting the 2022 World Cup with Qatar. The announcement is expected to happen at June’s annual Congress. This short timeline adds more pressure to Qatar and makes the Turkey option look more viable. However, FIFA has said that the World Cup can only be expanded by using at least one of Qatar’s neighbours as a co-host but the situation is complicated by the ongoing dispute between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours, according to “SportsPro”.