Qatar lacks the infrastructure and would have its work cut out to host 48-team World Cup, say experts

The Khalifa International Stadium is one of the venues for the 2022 World Cup. (Getty)
Updated 16 April 2018
0

Qatar lacks the infrastructure and would have its work cut out to host 48-team World Cup, say experts

  • FIFA President Infantino is receptive to the idea of increasing the number of teams
  • There were issues with the traffic and accommodating the media at 2011 Asian Cup

LONDON: A proposal to increase the number of teams at the 2022 World Cup from 32 to 48 may sound appealing to FIFA and broaden the appeal of the competition, but it would create a major headache for hosts Qatar, commentators say.
The tiny country announced last week that eight stadiums will be ready by 2019. If South America gets its way, however, and the 48-team World Cup scheduled to be introduced at the 2026 World Cup is brought forward four years, there will be four more arenas needed —  and quickly.
Steve Kim, former head of competitions at the Asian Football Confederation, believes that the proposal from CONMEBOL (the South American Football Confederation) that was put forward last week is not possible for Qatar to handle alone.
“It is very difficult for Qatar to host a 48-team World Cup,” Kim told Arab News. “There are all kinds of logistical issues to address.”
Kim helped organize the 2011 Asian Cup which was held in Qatar. “Then there were 16 teams but there were issues with the traffic on match days and how Qatar could accommodate the media,” he said. “It was OK in the end but that was a very different situation. I think ideally, Qatar can handle 16 to 24 teams and while 32 is possible with all the time they have to prepare, 48 sounds very difficult indeed. There would need to be detailed assessments.”
Another issue is timing. With temperatures in the Middle East soaring in the summer months, the 2022 World Cup is due to take place in winter. European leagues may not look kindly at their domestic tournaments being delayed even longer. While Europe may have doubts, the possibility of nations such as China making it would have its attractions.
“Just to have Chinese teams in the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League made a huge difference in terms of television ratings and social media interaction," Kim said. “I can’t imagine what it would mean for the World Cup, it would be huge.”
Perhaps that is one reason why FIFA is interested. The world governing body has been struggling financially, in relative terms, in recent years. They reported a loss of $369 million last year. A 48-team World Cup would be welcome in terms of attracting more revenue from broadcasters and sponsors, especially if nations such as China are able to qualify.
“It seems to me a very interesting idea,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said after meeting with CONMEBOL leaders last week. “If it’s possible, if it is feasible, if the others agree too, because it is not a decision that only the president of FIFA or CONMEBOL make ... of course we are going to study it and if it is possible, why not?”
While a major theme of Qatar’s successful bid to host the World Cup was that it would be a tournament for the whole of the Middle East, James Corbett, a long-time journalist and FIFA observer from the UK, is skeptical. “The prospect of Qatar hosting a 48-nation World Cup four years from now is as improbable as it sharing the tournament with its neighbors,” said Corbett.
According to Corbett, Infantino is delusional if he thinks an expanded tournament will help defuse tensions in the region. “Most likely this is an economic move by an organization unable to meet the electoral financial pledges made by Infantino in 2016.”
A spokesperson for Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy told Arab News that Qatar would wait and see but would need to talk to FIFA and other bodies.
“We are aware that CONMEBOL delivered a proposal to FIFA suggesting an increase in the number of teams at the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” the spokesperson said. “Before any decision is taken it is important that discussions are held on the operations and logistics of an increase in size of the tournament in Qatar. Regardless of the outcome, we are confident in our ability to deliver a successful World Cup in 2022.”


Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

Updated 21 April 2018
0

Manchester United inflict more semifinal misery on sorry Spurs

  • Manchester United come from behind to make FA Cup final.
  • Mauricio Pochettino yet to win a trophy as manager.

A third cup final with Manchester United for Jose Mourinho. More FA Cup semifinal misery for Tottenham.
While Mauricio Pochettino wins admiration for his style of football, the manager has yet to actually win a trophy in management.
A 2-1 collapse to United at Wembley Stadium on Saturday left Tottenham reeling from an eighth successive loss in the FA Cup semifinals.
Pochettino is responsible for two of the setbacks, having also fallen short against Chelsea last season.
At the stadium where Tottenham have been playing their home matches this season, Dele Alli's goal gave the 1991 FA Cup winners hope of turning around their miserable record in world football's oldest knockout competition.
But Alexis Sanchez leveled in the 24th minute and Ander Herrera struck the winner in the second half. It ensured Mourinho, who won the League Cup and Europa League in his first season at United, has a chance to also end this campaign with silverware against Chelsea or Southampton in the FA Cup final.
"We're getting used to being in finals," Herrera said. "This club is all about titles and finals."
While Mourinho has fallen short in the English Premier League behind newly crowned champion Manchester City, United are second and on course for their highest finish since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Tottenham would settle with holding onto fourth place to secure a third season in a row in the Champions League.
Liverpool missed a chance to considerably stretch its advantage over Tottenham in one of Saturday's two league games. Juergen Klopp's side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with last-place West Bromwich Albion 2-2 and move only three points ahead of Tottenham.
Chelsea, who plays Southampton in the other FA Cup semifinal on Sunday, are five points behind Tottenham with four games remaining.

POGBA TRANSFORMED
When United fell behind to Tottenham, Paul Pogba was culpable.
A high ball was launched forward by Tottenham, a lethargic Pogba didn't try to break sweat in an attempt to prevent it reaching Eriksen. It allowed the Dane to whip in a cross for Alli to slide onto at the far post and strike past David De Gea in 11th minute
Had Harry Kane made a connection at the far post with Son Heung-min's cross three minutes later, Tottenham might have extended their lead.
Instead, United were able to draw level. Pogba made amends for his earlier inertia by dispossessing Mousa Dembele and delivering a cross that Sanchez headed past static goalkeeper Michel Vorm.
Sanchez did the hard work to create the winner in the 62nd, holding off Kieran Trippier and rolling the ball into the penalty area where Jesse Lingard teed up Herrera to shoot past Vorm.