If CONMEBOL has its way, it will be much easier for the United States to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. According to a report by the Associated Press, CONMEBOL’s president, Alejandro Dominguez, has pressed FIFA to speed up the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams, desiring the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be the first with 48 teams.
The original plan was for FIFA to expand the World Cup in 2026, going from the current format of 32 teams to 48. That would mean Qatar, who is already under strain to host the 64 matches involved in a 32-team tournament, may have to boost preparations to have the ability to hold the 80 matches required in the 48-team format. Their original plan to reduce the number of stadiums used in the World Cup would have to be eliminated, and those stadiums would need to be in place and ready to go. Not to mention that the tournament has already been moved to a 28-day schedule in November-December 2022 after being moved from its traditional June-July schedule, and there could be a massive amount of logistics to be worked out.
On top of that, qualification for the expanded tournament would need to be considered sooner than expected. With 16 additional teams in the 2022 tournament, FIFA would need to set new numbers for teams that qualify from each confederation, and each confederation will need to revamp their qualifying process. That would mean saying goodbye to the Hexagonal round of qualifying in CONCACAF 4 years earlier.
None of this sounds like a good idea, but that’s not stopping CONMEBOL from imploring FIFA to consider the proposal. We will see if FIFA goes along with it. As the USMNT gets ready for a new qualifying cycle, I’m sure all fans will be waiting to see what happens as well.