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BC-SOC--2022 WCup-Expansion

March 11, 2019
AP Global Soccer Writer

LONDON (AP) — A FIFA feasibility study has concluded that the 2022 World Cup can expand to 48 teams by using at least one of Qatar’s neighbors as an additional host, and says there is a low legal risk to changing the format and an additional $400 million in revenue could be generated.

The Associated Press has obtained a copy of the 83-page report which assesses the political, logistical and legal issues surrounding adding 16 teams — a significant change to the format more than eight years after Qatar won the hosting rights. The report was prepared by the governing body so its FIFA Council can agree in principle on expanding the tournament at a meeting in Miami on Friday. A final decision would come in June.

The study identified stadiums in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that could be used but said Qatar would have to approve who it partnered with.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE severed economic, diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar in 2017, which prevents flights between the countries. The study says FIFA accepts that the ongoing political spat prevents their involvement in the tournament.

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports