FIFA has decided not to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams. Instead, the organization will hold off expansion until 2026 when the tournament is in North America. FIFA has had more than a few problems with the 2022 World Cup already, those issues began the day they selected Qatar as its host.
Here’s more from FIFA’s announcement:
Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.
Additionally, FIFA and Qatar have once again explored the feasibility of Qatar hosting a 48-team tournament by in particular lowering certain key FIFA requirements. A joint analysis, in this respect, concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June. It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.
The tournament would have had 16 extra matches if the tournament was to expand. That would have necessitated agreements with neighboring countries to host some of those contests. Kuwait and Oman were both looked at as potential hosts but regional political conflicts also played a role in the decision not to expand.
Honestly, this was a terrible idea from the start. Switching the format from 32 to 48 on such short notice would have been a disaster. Not quite as big a disaster as selecting Qatar as the tournament’s host, but it would have been bad.