World Cup 2022: FIFA drop plans to make finals in Qatar a 48-team tournament

22 May

FIFA has announced the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be a 32-team tournament as originally planned.

World football’s governing body had toyed with the idea of expanding the showpiece event to 48 teams but it’s been determined as not practical.

France won the last World Cup in Russia in 2018
Getty

“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will, therefore, remain as originally planned with 32 teams,” a statement read.

The World Cup is due to become a 48-team tournament in 2026 when it is hosted jointly by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

FIFA carried out studies to determine whether it would be feasible to increase participation in Qatar in three years’ time but it was not logistically possible.

The Al Wakrah Stadium in Doha will host the opening match of the 2022 tournament
Getty


The statement read: “FIFA and Qatar have jointly explored all possibilities to increase the number of participant teams from 32 to 48 teams by involving neighbouring countries. Following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process… it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.”

It added that there was also not enough time for Qatar itself to assess the potential impact of hosting an expanded tournament.

Gareth Southgate to put England contract talks on hold, despite pay rise on the table

8 Sep

England manager Gareth Southgate will not rush into signing a new contract with the Football Association despite them wanting to hand him a pay rise, according to The Times.

The Three Lions boss helped his team reach the World Cup semi-finals this year, only to see his team lose to Croatia, after extra-time.

It was a thrilling performance throughout the tournament from England, with striker Harry Kane claiming the tournament’s Golden Boot award for scoring six goals.

And the Football Association are keen to tie down Southgate, who reignited the country’s passion for international football, as they believe he could be tempted away for a role in the Premier League.

Southgate himself is reportedly unsure, especially with increased interest in his private life, but is currently set to lead England through to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The Times report the Football Association are also worried about losing technical director Dan Ashworth, with chief executive Martin Glenn also potentially leaving in the coming years too.

Qatar accused of sabotaging World Cup 2022 rivals with secret campaign

29 Jul

The Qatar 2022 World Cup bid team broke FIFA rules by running a secret campaign to sabotage their rivals for the tournament, The Sunday Times has claimed.

The newspaper says it has been passed documents by a whistleblower who worked with the Qatar bid.

Qatar will host the World Cup in 2022

It says the bid team used a PR agency and former CIA operatives to disseminate fake propaganda about its main competitors, the United States and Australia.

This allegedly involved recruiting prominent figures to criticise the bids in their own countries, thus giving the impression they lacked support at home.

FIFA rules say that bidders must “refrain from making any written or oral statements of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association which has expressed an interest in hosting and staging the competitions”.

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it “rejected” all the claims made by the paper.

According to The Sunday Times, the alleged smear campaign included paying a professor 9,000 dollars (£6,900) to write a damning report on the economic cost of a US World Cup, recruiting journalists and bloggers to promote negative stories in the US, Australian and international media, and organising grassroots protests at rugby matches in Australia.

The leaked documents also revealed that a group of American PE teachers had been recruited to ask congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds the money would be better spent on high school sports, the paper claimed.

There is much controversy surrounding the Qatar World Cup

Lord Triesman, former chairman of the Football Association and England bid chairman, urged FIFA to “look at the evidence thoroughly”, and said Qatar should not be allowed to “hold on to the World Cup” if they were shown to have broken FIFA rules.

He told the paper: “I think it would not be wrong for FIFA to reconsider England in those circumstances … We have the capabilities.”

The Qatar bid team has previously been accused of corruption, but was cleared following a two-year inquiry by the FIFA ethics committee.

In a statement, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: “The Supreme Committee rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times.

“We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia.

“We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”

FIFA said an investigation into the circumstances of the bid had already been carried out and no wrongdoing was found.

A FIFA spokesperson said: “Concerning the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, a thorough investigation was conducted by Michael Garcia and his conclusions are available in the report, which has been published on FIFA.com.

“Generally speaking, complaints regarding potential breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics may be filed via FIFA’s confidential reporting mechanism.”

 

World Cup 2022: Finals in Qatar to be played over 28-day period during winter months, FIFA announces

13 Jul

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has confirmed the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place during the winter.

The governing body took the decision to move the tournament to the more cooler months with a November 21 start date.

The Khalifa International Stadium will play host to some of the games at the 2022 tournament

The final is due to happen on December 18, which is also Qatar National Day.

It will therefore fall in the middle of the domestic schedule for the majority of European club sides.

However, the tournament will be played over a reduced time period of 28 days in an attempt to counteract this.

Meanwhile, Infantino declared the 2018 tournament as the best World Cup ever and thanked Russia for being the perfect host.

The 2018 World Cup got the thumbs up from FIFA’s president

Speaking at the traditional tournament overview media conference, he said: “For a couple of years I have been saying this will be the best World Cup ever and today I can say that with conviction – it is the best World Cup ever.

“I would like to thank everyone. The main actors are on the pitch – the players, referees and coaches – but, of course, there are also all those who have worked to make sure everything has worked smoothly, the Russians.

“A big thank you to the Russian government and the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the local organising committee, the Russian Football Union, the volunteers, the heart and smile of the World Cup, all those people, more than 100,000, who helped in one capacity or another.”

France face Croatia in the final of these World Cup finals while England take on Belgium in the third place play-off and you can listen to both games live on talkSPORT from 4pm on Sunday and 3pm on Saturday respectively.