Infantino urges Kuwait to host 2022 World Cup matches

Kuwait's parliament speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim (R) meeting with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the Kuwait national assembly in Kuwait City Sunday. — AFP

KUWAIT CITY — FIFA president Gianni Infantino met Kuwait's emir Sunday, state media said, amid reports the Gulf state is in talks to host matches to support Qatar during the 2022 World Cup.

Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah and the head of the country's sports federation met with Infantino on a low-profile visit that began Saturday, the official KUNA news agency said.

Infantino also met with the speaker of Kuwait's National Assembly, Marzuk al-Ghanem, and officials of the national football federation, KUNA said.

While no details of the visit were made public, local media has reported that Infantino's hope is to convince Kuwait to host some matches if the 2022 Qatar World Cup is expanded.

FIFA has decided to increase the number of teams in the World Cup from 32 to 48 come 2026 in the United States, Canada and Mexico — but last month voted in favor of the increase being implemented starting in Qatar, which would likely require that neighboring countries host some games.

A final decision on the Qatar proposal, strongly supported by Infantino, is expected at a FIFA meeting in Paris in June.

The increase in the number of teams would automatically raise the number of both games and fans, presenting new logistical challenges to Qatar.

Further complicating the matter is the Gulf diplomatic crisis, a nearly two-year-old diplomatic freeze between Qatar and its rivals.

Gulf states Kuwait and Oman have not taken sides in the crisis.

Oman announced last week it was "not ready" to host matches in the 2022 cup. — AFP