The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held with 32 participating teams and not an expanded 48 teams, organisers FIFA said on Wednesday.
The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino had proposed expanding the tournament and explored the idea of adding additional host nations.
But the sport’s world ruling body said in statement: “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.”
FIFA and Qatar also looked at whether the Gulf state could host an expanded tournament alone by changing the normal requirements for facilities.
“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,” said the FIFA statement.
“It was therefore decided not to further pursue this option.”
Infantino began to back away from the idea in March when after a FIFA Council meeting in Miami he said: “If it happens – fantastic. If it doesn’t happen – fantastic also”.
The 2026 World Cup, to be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, is scheduled to feature 48 teams and given the large number of stadiums available is unlikely to face any logistical problems.
Qatar will host Middle East’s first football World Cup from 21 November to 18 December 2022.
An announcement of the final decision hadn’t been expected until the congress, which is being held in Paris ahead of the Women’s World Cup.
Last week Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said that a feasibility study jointly carried out by FIFA and Qatar would favour “expansion to other countries”.
But such a proposal faced challenges as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing Qatar of supporting Iran and Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges
Gulf states Kuwait and Oman have not taken sides in the crisis, however in April Oman announced it was “not ready” to host matches.