Fifa rules out expanding Qatar World Cup to 48 teams

(AFP/File photo)
Updated 22 May 2019

Fifa rules out expanding Qatar World Cup to 48 teams

  • Potential logistical impact on the host country among the reasons given for keeping the competition to 32 teams

LAUSANNE: The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played with 32 teams after a proposed expansion of the tournament to 48 sides was scrapped, FIFA announced on Wednesday.
World football’s governing body said in a statement that “following a thorough and comprehensive consultation process with the involvement of all the relevant stakeholders, it was concluded that under the current circumstances such a proposal could not be made now.”
“(The tournament) will therefore remain as originally planned with 32 teams and no proposal will be submitted at the next FIFA Congress on 5 June,” FIFA added.
An announcement of the final decision hadn’t been expected until the congress, which is being held in Paris ahead of the Women’s World Cup.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino had supported the increase in the size of the tournament.
However the statement said that the study “concluded that due to the advanced stage of preparations and the need for a detailed assessment of the potential logistical impact on the host country, more time would be required and a decision could not be taken before the deadline of June.”
That led to FIFA dropping the idea, despite the organization recommending in March that the number of teams should be raised to 48 for 2022, ahead of the planned 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Expanding the competition for the 2022 tournament was always a complicated proposition. FIFA had sounded out potential co-hosts in the region willing to support Qatar, a complicated proposition for Doha which is subject to an ongoing embargo by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies.
Last week Hassan Al-Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said that a feasibility study jointly carried out by FIFA and Qatar would favor “expansion to other countries.”
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties with Doha in June 2017, accusing Qatar of supporting extremist groups and Iran.


Sri Lanka win toss in first Test in Pakistan since 2009 attack

Updated 11 December 2019

Sri Lanka win toss in first Test in Pakistan since 2009 attack

  • Foreign teams have been refusing to tour Pakistan since attack on the Lankan team a decade ago
  • Security has improved in Pakistan over the years

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan: Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne won the toss and decided to bat on Wednesday in the first Test in Pakistan since a deadly attack on the Sri Lankan team a decade ago.
Sri Lanka have embarked on the first Test tour of Pakistan since the gun-and-rocket attack in March 2009 killed eight people and wounded players and officials, plunging Pakistan into sporting isolation.
With foreign teams refusing to tour, Pakistan have since played their ‘home’ fixtures in the United Arab Emirates, meaning all of their current team are now playing their first Test on home soil.
However, as security has improved, Pakistan has gradually revived international cricket with limited-overs matches against Zimbabwe, World XI, the West Indies and Sri Lanka over the last four years.
Pakistan entered the Test with a four-man pace attack, giving Test debuts to opener Abid Ali and left-arm fast bowler Usman Shinwari.
Sri Lanka have also included three fast bowlers, with Dilruwan Perera the lone spinner.

Teams:
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah, Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha
Umpires: Michael Gough (ENG), Richard Kettleborough (ENG)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)