x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Gulf countries eager to host 2022 games

Any decision on expanding the 2022 World Cup tournament beyond Qatar must come from the desert nation.

Although several Gulf countries are interested in hosting games during the 2022 World Cup, the Fifa president Sepp Blatter said the decision on expanding the tournament beyond Qatar must come from the desert nation.

Mr Blatter, who met with football officials in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait as well as Qatar during a tour of the region this week, said "the item was on the agenda" when he met with Qatari officials but refused to say whether they support it.

"I can say all these countries are very happy first of all the World Cup is going to the Middle East ... and they are interested, I would say a little bit more than interested, to be part of this competition," Mr Blatter said. "It is a wish. It is easy to say but it is not so easy to realise."

Mr Blatter did not elaborate on which countries would want to host the games nor how many games could be hosted by Qatar's neighbours. He reiterated that such a decision would first have to come from Qatar then be considered by Fifa's 24-member executive committee.

"This demand has to come from the Qatar football organisation by saying we would like to have such and such things and this has to go back to Fifa and the Fifa executive committee has to say open it or don't open it," Mr Blatter said. "For the time being, it's too early."