FIFA explores Kuwait, Oman as 2022 World Cup co-hosts

The Al Wakrah stadium under construction for the 2022 World Cup Source: Getty

FIFA continues the push to expand the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, considering Kuwait and Oman becoming co-hosts with Qatar, which remains in the middle of a complicated diplomatic stand-off with several Arab neighbours.

Qatar's infrastructure is already stretched for the Middle East's first World Cup, and FIFA President Gianni Infantino wants to add 16 more countries to the planned 32-team tournament.

That's too many games for the eight stadiums spread over just a 30-mile radius in Qatar, a tiny nation with just 2.7 million people, most of them foreign workers.

Infantino has been lobbying for an expanded 2022 tournament for months, even suggesting some games in Saudi Arabia, which is leading the bitter isolation campaign with several Arab neighbours against Qatar.

Kuwait has been trying to mediate the crisis.

FIFA is now looking at Kuwait and Oman - Infantino visited Kuwait last month and Oman on Sunday.

Kuwait and Oman have have remained neutral in the diplomatic battle, which began in June 2017.

Other Gulf countries launched a boycott of Qatar over accusations it supports extremist groups, which Doha denies.

The principle of expanding the World Cup has already been agreed by FIFA members, with 48 teams planned for the 2026 World Cup being jointly hosted by the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Infantino first announced in April that he wanted to fast-track the expansion to 2022 , even though Qatar couldn't cope with 16 more games.

Qatar is building just eight stadiums for a 64-game tournament. Twelve would be necessary for 48 teams playing 80 games.

Kuwait has the 65,000-capacity Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium to host World Cup games, but there is a complete ban on alcohol in the nation, a problem for FIFA that has significant ties with alcohol sponsorship in past World Cups.

Qatar has exemption that allows foreigners to drink alcohol, but it has yet to confirm how available it will be in stadiums. Budweiser is a major FIFA sponsor.

Oman's biggest stadium has 34,000-capacity stadium, which is short of FIFA's minimum requirement of 40,000 seats.

FIFA Vice President Victor Montagliani wants the governing body's ruling council to decide whether to expand to 48 teams at a meeting in Florida next week.

FIFA's committee for organising competitions confirmed on Monday that Asia will kick off qualifying in June, even though the number of slots of the finals is yet to be decided.

Source AAP