April 10 – A major spanner has been thrown into the plans of Gianni Infantino to share the 2022 World Cup with Qatar’s neighbours.
In recent weeks, because of the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, it become clear that Oman and Kuwait would be the two most likely countries to be offered sharing rights if FIFA agrees, and with Qatar’s approval, to expand the 2022 tournament from 32 to 48 teams.
But in an unexpected blow to Infantino’s hopes and an indication of what has perhaps actually been going on behind the scenes politically, Oman says it would not be ready to host matches, potentially throwing the entire 48-team project into disarray.
“We’ve been asked about it many times and our answer was: we are not ready, we are not ready,” Yosuf bin Alawi, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, told CNN, adding that since Qatar had been granted hosting rights, “it must stay there.”
Oman has remained outside the group of nations leading the blockade of Qatar and has provided a travel route to and from the UAE and Saudi Arabia in particular as it has sought to build its economic links with Qatar.
So far Kuwait has given no firm indication whether it would be prepared to co-host but Oman’s stance means FIFA is running out of options, with a decision on expansion set for June at the FIFA Congress in Paris.
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