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2022 World Cup expansion to 48 teams opposed by top European leagues

2022 World Cup expansion to 48 teams opposed by top European leagues
From ESPN - April 16, 2018

GENEVA -- 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, Spain's 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."

Infantino's 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 FIFA's 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 football officials worldwide in an 18-month process that reached an expected conclusion -- to push back the schedule and play in cooler months, with a Nov. 21 - Dec. 18 schedule.

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

FIFA's 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.

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