The organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar say they are “open” to the possible expansion of the tournament from 32 to 48 teams through the addition of a second host country.
The FIFA council confirmed on Friday that they would work with Qatar over a possible expansion that would be achieved with the introduction of a co-host, with a feasibility study showing it can be done.
Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates were named as potential co-hosts, though the latter three countries would only be allowed to do so on the proviso their governments end their on-going diplomatic blockade of Qatar.
A final decision is due to be made at the meeting of FIFA Congress in Paris in June.
It has already been agreed that the 2026 tournament, to be co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and United States, will feature 48 teams.
In a statement, Qatar's Supreme Committee confirmed they were ready to work with FIFA over the proposed expansion.
“We have been open to the process of discussing a potential expansion of the World Cup in 2022 to 48 teams since discussions started in Moscow and continued in Kigali,” read the statement.
“Our openness was based on our commitment to hosting a FIFA World Cup that benefits our region and its people in the best way possible. It has always been our mission to ensure that this World Cup belongs to the entire Arab World and the Middle East.
“We will work with FIFA to determine whether or not a viable operating model does exist and importantly, whether it is in the best interests for football and for the tournament, and for Qatar as the host nation.
“After these consultations, the final decision will be made by Qatar and FIFA. Until we reach that conclusion, we will continue to work toward hosting a 32-team World Cup in 2022 hosted in the state of Qatar.”
Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup nine years ago and will be the first time the tournament is held in an Arab nation.
In 2015 it was confirmed that the tournament would be played in winter in order to avoid the extreme temperatures in the Gulf state.