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The proposal of President Gianni Infantino must wait until the 2026 edition. What could be good and bad that there are 48 selections?
Leer en español: ¿Por qué el Mundial Qatar 2022 se jugará con 32 países?
What seemed to many an outburst ended up reaching FIFA's decisions. For now, the organization decided not to make the World Cup with 48 national teams, as was the wish of its president Gianni Infantino, and will keep it in 32 at least until the next edition, Qatar 2022. Yes, for fans of countries that have never classified or usually do not classify, the news was not received with a lot of pleasure.
Recall that, in March of this year, the FIFA Council authorized lnfantino to consult with the organizing country, Qatar, the possibility of adding at least one other country in the region to host 16 additional matches. The options were United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
From the economic and logistical point of view, these nations were the best options in normal situations. However, with the economic blockade and cancellation of diplomatic relations of these countries with Qatar imposed two years ago, that possibility practically vanished and Infantino knew it, but this innovative FIFA president is a dreamer and decided to try.
In that attempt, two neutral countries, Kuwait and Oman, emerged as the main options. Here, from our point of view, emerged what helped FIFA to make the decision: Oman showed no interest in hosting the event. It was there when it was determined that there was not enough time to stage more games.
We quote verbatim the statement on the case issued by FIFA in all its platforms: "After a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the participation of all relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that, in the current circumstances, such a proposal could not be done now." No further details were given.
A beautiful dream, but an impossible one?
I recognize that I do not like a World Cup with so many people, even if that, as a Venezuelan, would be convenient for us to have a large number of places to classify the FIFA World Cup for the first time. Nor do I get upset if the quotas are expanded, but my slogan is "I prefer quality before quantity" and, for me, the World Cup has always been related to excellence, hence its success and positioning on the planet. I still find it difficult to relate it to solidarity.
Of course, Infantino has shown to be a noble person in that sense. He likes the amplitude, the opportunity and, therefore, with the expansion of the quotas, opportunities would be opened automatically to some 40 national teams. Among them could be Venezuela or Guatemala, who have a tradition in previous qualifiers, but who have never been able to officially attend a World Cup.
There is also the other side of the coin. Infantino wants to avoid that national teams, which already have a tradition as participants in the World Cup, are left out massively as happened in the last edition, Russia 2018, in which the four-time world champion, Italy, the eternal runner-up Holland, and the already traditional Chile, the United States and Cameroon did not qualify.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ to be played with 32 teams— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) May 22, 2019
Unfortunately, having more teams does not guarantee quality. On the contrary, it will make visible the abysmal differences between some countries and others in soccer matters. It is an aspect that will reduce the power of the World Cup, but, on the contrary, it will bring joy. Some of us will be on one side of the sidewalk and others on the other side.
In 2026, when the World Cup is organized by the United States, Canada, and Mexico, we will probably see 48 teams play the tournament. Many things can happen from now until then, we hope that one of them is that the level of the teams becomes more balanced. FIFA has four more years to establish strategies so that Infantino's idea of 48 is not a mess. It will dawn and we will see.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "¿Por qué el Mundial Qatar 2022 se jugará con 32 países?"