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CONMEBOL asks FIFA to expand World Cup 2022 to 48 teams

South American nations lead push for expanded tournament to come in early, pushing for its introduction in Qatar – four years earlier than in FIFA's plans.

Thursday 12 April, 2018
FIFA chief Gianni Infantino.
FIFA chief Gianni Infantino. Foto:AP-Lionel Cironneau

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CONMEBOL, the South American Football Confederation today asked FIFA to bring forward plans to expand the World Cup to 48 teams in time for the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

The competition is due to be enlarged from 32 teams to 48 in time for the 2026 finals, which will be awarded either to Morocco or a joint North American bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada.

However, CONMEBOL president Alejandro Domínguez handed over a letter at the organisation's Congress in Buenos Aires to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, signed by the heads of the 10 South American federations, urging the early expansion.

"We are asking that the 2022 World Cup be played with 48 teams," Domínguez said.

Five CONMEBOL teams – Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Peru – will go to this year's World Cup in Russia.

Under the existing qualifying system, four South American countries qualify automatically with the fifth having to come through a two-legged play-off.

For this year's World Cup Peru beat Oceania's top side New Zealand to make it to Russia.

The new 48-team format will give South America six places, with a seventh side going into an intercontinental play-off.

Increasing the number of games from 64 to 80 would pose additional challenges for logistics in Qatar.

The first World Cup in the Middle East is already operating on a tight 28-day schedule to please clubs after FIFA shifted the event from its usual June-July slot to November-December because of the extreme heat in Qatar.

- TIMES/AFP/AP

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