Moscow. A few hours before the final of the World Cup in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has symbolically handed over the business to the organizer of the next tournament 2022, the Emir of Qatar. The Kremlin leader symbolically presented Sheikh Tamim with a football in Moscow on Sunday. He is convinced that Qatar will host the World Cup just as well as Russia, Putin said. Well, that is doubtful. The fact is that the final round in four years’ time will take place under completely different circumstances. And whether it will actually be hosted in Qatar seems by no means certain.
Infantino thinking about increasing the number of teams to 48
The desert state is still suspected of having bought the World Cup. Among other things, the US judiciary is investigating this case according to the anti-mafia law Rico. Should there be any tangible evidence of corruption in the World Cup awarding process in the coming months or years, the world federation Fifa around President Gianni Infantino would have to react in order to manoeuvre itself out of the line of fire. A re-allocation does not seem to be out of the question.
Even if the tournament were to take place in Qatar, the 2.7-million-population state might not remain the sole organiser – at least if Infantino is the place to go. The Swiss is still thinking out loud about increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48. Whether a country that is smaller than Schleswig-Holstein could meet this logistical challenge alone is doubtful.
Fifa boss recommends cooperation
Qatar could cooperate with Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, Infantino recently recommended. A proposal that seems almost cynical given the political tensions, as Qatar is isolated from its neighbors because of its supposed proximity to terrorist networks. Infantino, on the other hand, is said to be remarkably close to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It was only in March that he received a 25 billion dollar offer for the Club World Cup and Nations League. The driving force behind it: Saudi Arabia.
For the time being, however, everything is going according to plan in the FIFA cosmos. World Cup 2022 in Qatar, with four arenas in Doha and four other stadiums a maximum of 35 kilometres from the capital. Due to the enormous heat in the Persian Gulf, the tournament will take place for the first time in winter (21 November to 18 December), so that the game calendar must be turned completely to the left. The Bundesliga will also have to take a much longer break in winter than usual. Conditions that have always been viewed critically.
Organizers are nevertheless optimistic, of course.
The World Cup will be “unique and quite different than ever before”, according to the euphemistic description of Qatar. “We have no doubt that many fans will also come to Qatar from Europe,” said Vice-President Nassir al-Chatir, who dares to host a field of 48. The first World Cup in the Arab world will “arouse the curiosity of every fan”. Unless the judiciary first satisfies their curiosity about the supposedly corrupt machinations of FIFA.