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European leagues oppose FIFA plan for 48-team 2022 World Cup

From FOX Sports - April 16, 2018

GENEVA (AP)Top European leagues are set to oppose FIFA plans for adding more teams and playing days at the 2022 World Cup.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino wants to study a 48-team tournament plan that would add 16 teams, 16 extra games and at least four days to the scheduled 28-day event kicking off in November 2022 in Qatar.

That schedule would likely take another round of weekend fixtures from the English Premier League, Spains La Liga and others which already must shut down in mid-season.

We are not prepared to make any changes on the calendar for expanding the 2022 World Cup. Lars-Christer Olsson, CEO of the 32-member European Leagues group, said on Monday.

We have already been flexible to allow the World Cup to be played in the (Qatari) winter and have agreed the dates, Olsson said, adding we are not prepared for the duration of the World Cup to be any longer.

Infantinos support last week for a 48-team World Cup ahead of the agreed expansion for the 2026 edition comes more than seven years after Qatar won hosting rights from FIFAs then-executive committee.

Qatar bid to stage a 32-team, 64-game tournament in June-July 2022 despite the searing desert heat, with a pledge to develop stadium cooling technology.

In 2013, FIFA started consulting soccer officials worldwide in an 18-month process that reached an expected conclusionto push back the schedule and play in cooler months, with a Nov. 21-Dec. 18 schedule.

That shorter, 28-day programinstead of the typical 32-day tournamentwas a concession to Europe where most World Cup players are employed, and leagues wanted the shortest possible forced shutdown.

FIFAs calendar for national-team games, which mandates when clubs must release players, has a Monday, Nov. 14, 2022 call-up date for World Cup teams.

An extra four days on the 2022 World Cup program would likely mean moving up the World Cup program, and taking the Nov. 12-13 fixture dates away from European leagues.

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