Fifa has outlined a list of 10 stadia in five countries that could be utilised to help stage an expanded 2022 World Cup, with world football’s governing body stating the move would be worth an additional $400m (€354.9m) in revenue, and adding the chances of legal repercussions would be slim.
The details were revealed by the Associated Press news agency from an 81-page report that will be presented to the Fifa Council at a meeting in Miami on Friday. Fifa officials will consider reaching an agreement in principle on expanding Qatar’s World Cup from 32 to 48 teams, with any decision to be rubber-stamped in June.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino has been pushing for expansion of the World Cup to be brought forward. The change is currently scheduled to take effect for the 2026 tournament in the United States, Canada and Mexico, but Infantino first touted an earlier introduction back in April 2018.
The report outlines the following venues as potential destinations for an expanded 2022 World Cup: Bahrain – Bahrain National Stadium, Riffa; Kuwait – Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait City, Sabah Al-Salem Stadium, Kuwait City; Oman – Boshar-Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat; Saudi Arabia – King Fahd International Stadium, Riyadh, King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, Jeddah, Prince Mohammed bin Fahad bin Abdul Aziz, Dammam; United Arab Emirates – Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Hazza bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain.
Qatar would need to approve any nations it would potentially partner, with Fifa conceding this would effectively rule out a number of options due to ongoing political tension in the region. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE ended economic, diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in 2017.
The report read: “As it currently stands, the nature of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s relations with Qatar is such that it would be challenging to organise a co-hosted tournament between Qatar and one or more of these countries.
“Candidate co-hosts would need to be regarded as sufficiently cooperative. Such co-hosts would not sanction or boycott economically or otherwise any other potential co-host country, including the main host, Qatar.”
Qatar is currently planning to stage a 32-team tournament in eight stadia. Fifa said two to four additional venues would be required in the region with “one or more” nation. It added: “Whilst a 10-stadium tournament could be considered in the event that up to six matches are played per day during the group stage and matches are held in the same venue on consecutive days, 12 stadiums would still be preferable.”
Fifa also maintains an expanded World Cup would not affect its duration of 28 days, with the additional 16 matches able to be accommodated in the November 21 to December 18 window. The governing body is also confident it can avoid potential legal action from losing bidders for the hosting rights due to a major change in the makeup of the event.
The report said: “With regard to the previously administered bidding process, the process did not exclude joint bids and the possibility of co-hosting was an option for all bidders from the outset.
“Therefore, there is little risk arising from bidders (or even other member associations) claiming that they could have bid for the hosting rights had they known that Fifa would contemplate co-hosting scenarios. Moreover, based on Fifa’s analysis and previous legal analysis, there is little risk of claims by bidders due to the change in format.”
The report also states an expanded World Cup could be worth an extra $121.8m in broadcast rights income, along with an additional $158.4m from sponsorship, $89.9m from ticket sales, $20m from hospitality and $10m from licensing agreements.