Greg Clarke, a FIFA vice president from England, told the meeting that FIFA must consider the human rights records of any additional host country, according to people present at the meeting. Qatar has been forced to adopt new workers regulations amid a backlash over its treatment of construction workers building the stadiums there. That scrutiny would likely shift to its neighbors, Clarke told the council members.
“How can you not think of human rights wherever you go? It must be an issue,” said Evelina Christillin, a FIFA Council member from Italy.
A delegation from Qatar, which was awarded the World Cup almost a decade ago, was also present in Miami. Hassan al-Thawadi, the executive responsible for 2022 World Cup preparations, said Qatar remained open-minded about expansion, provided it benefited Qatar as much as it did FIFA. He failed to answer when asked to provide one example of a benefit that his country could derive from an expanded tournament.
“We are open to exploring the options,” al-Thawadi said, adding it would be a “big, big challenge” to host a 48-team event if the blockade, now in its second year, continued. FIFA must make a final decision at a meeting of its 211 members in Paris in June; qualifying for the tournament begins that month, and teams and federations would need to know how many places are available.
Should the World Cup be enlarged, FIFA would need to play six matches per day to ensure the tournament can be completed within 28 days, a stipulation it agreed with European clubs after moving the tournament to November to avoid the searing Gulf summer. That would mean rest periods for some teams of as little as 48 hours, and a potential risk to athlete’ health, according to the largest players’ union, FIFPro
“At international competitions like the World Cup, the minimum rest period between matches must be maintained at 72 hours,” FIFPro said in a statement.