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  • AFC Candidate Backs 48 Team World Cup


    03/12/19

    (ATR) Mohammed Al Romaithi says he supports a 48 team World Cup in 2022, as a new FIFA report says accelerating the expansion of the tournament is feasible.
    Mohammed Al Romaithi (ATR)

    Al Romaithi is running as an opposition candidate for the Presidency of the Asian Football Confederation. He pledged his support to the expansion in an interview with Kyodo News, as he tours East Asia in an attempt to drum up support for his candidacy.

    “I would like an expansion," Al Romaithi said to Kyodo. “I am very happy because this will give Asia eight slots and give us more chance to show our best in the World Cup.

    “I am supporting a 48-team World Cup (at Qatar 2022), I hope they can come to an agreement. I would like to see eight teams from Asia playing as soon as possible.”

    The AFC Presidential candidate’s quotes are noteworthy because Al Romaithi is from the United Arab Emirates, which is currently in a diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar with other Gulf countries.

    A FIFA report obtained by the AP showed that a 48 team World Cup in 2022 would be feasible, if Qatar was not the only country to host it. The expanded World Cup would require 10-12 stadia, whereas Qatar is building eight for the 32-team event. The report said the expanded tournament had the potential to generate around $400 million in increased revenues.

    FIFA President Gianni Infantino has reportedly been travelling to Kuwait and Oman to shore up secondary hosts for any potential expansion. FIFA will present and discuss the report at its next Council meeting this week in Miami, Florida.

    Al Romaithi suggested that he is in favor of the UAE helping co-host an expanded World Cup, should a political resolution to the Gulf row be found.

    “Maybe Kuwait and Oman will help,” he said. “If the political issue is solved maybe everyone will support Qatar to host, including the UAE. If the [political] reasons are gone, there is nothing wrong with helping from our side.”

    Al Romaithi is running for the AFC Presidency on a platform which promises a quick cash injection into the confederation’s coffers. He is standing against Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain for the post.

    He said he would bankroll a $320 million development fund for the AFC, and if a turnaround did not happen in the first six to 12 months of his mandate, he would step down as president.

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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