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Infantino sets March deadline for Qatar 2022 48-team expansion decision

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has set a March deadline for deciding whether the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar should be expanded to 48 teams.

The global governing body for football already plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams from 2026 onwards but proposed applying the changes to the 2022 edition of the tournament as well.

“We’ll decide in March,” Infantino told French TV show on Sunday.

“We’ve already decided that future editions should feature 48 teams, we all think it’s a good idea.”

However, Infantino downplayed the likelihood of the concept being brought forward arguing that the shortened timeframe for the Qatar event would make it tricky. Due to soaring summer temperatures, the competition is being shoe-horned into a 28-day window over the months of November-December in 2022.

“It’s not easy because it will be played over 28 days, instead of 31 for a normal World Cup,” he said.

Infantino added that Fifa will hold a meeting in Miami in March to decide whether neighbouring countries could be allowed to host some of Qatar’s matches. In a recent interview with The Guardian, he suggested such a move could help to heal political hostilities in the region.