The 2022 World Cup will remains a 32-team tournament, according to a report by The Times’ Martyn Ziegler. In that exclusive report, Ziegler writes that FIFA president Gianni Infantino will announce at FIFA’s June 5th meeting that plans for a 48-team World Cup in 2022 involving Qatar and other neighboring nations has been abandoned.
Exclusive: Fifa abandons plans to expand Qatar World Cup to 48 teams and play games in neighbouring countries | full details from @martynziegler https://t.co/TDd82HLoDd— Times Sport (@TimesSport) May 22, 2019
Infantino had previously pushed for an expansion of the 2022 World Cup to 48 teams, with original host Qatar sharing matches with some of its Middle East neighbors. However, many of those nations are currently having political tensions with Qatar that has led to a dissolution of political ties and even blockade of the country from the rest of the Middle East. Still, Infantino expressed hope for months that the 48-team format would work in 2022. Instead, the FIFA president will have to wait for 2026 for that expansion, which has already been approved and will be implemented by hosts Mexico, the United States, and Canada.
The good news for USMNT fans is that there will be one last Hex, which should likely include one final World Cup qualifying match between the USMNT and Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. All eyes turn to Concacaf, who will hopefully release the 2022 World Cup qualifying schedule in short order.