FIFA has given up on its efforts to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, football’s world governing body announced on Wednesday.
“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will, therefore, remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June,” a FIFA statement read on Thursday.
FIFA had been exploring if logistical and political complexities could be overcome to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams, which would have required at least one more country being used in the Persian Gulf to accommodate an additional 16 matches in the region.
A FIFA internal report had already concluded that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia could not join as co-hosts unless they restore the economic and travel ties with Qatar that were severed two years ago.
That means the World Cup will not be expanded until 2026, with FIFA already having approved a format with 48 teams for that tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico.