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Infantino: Spreading 2022 World Cup matches could help peace in Middle East

Gianni Infantino says spreading matches at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to neighbouring countries could help bring peace to the Middle East. Credit: PA

Fifa president Gianni Infantino says spreading matches at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to neighbouring countries could help bring peace to the Middle East.

Infantino is pressing ahead with a proposal to expand the tournament from 32 to 48 teams, which would mean matches being shared among countries hostile to the hosts.

He acknowledges the chances are minimal but emphasises his belief that football can help to heal political hostilities which led last year to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt enforcing an economic blockade against Qatar.

"Maybe football is a way to build bridges," Infantino says in an interview in the Guardian marking four years to the start of the next World Cup.

"We have seen as well with the bidding for 2026, the right to organise the World Cup was awarded to three countries (USA, Canada and Mexico) which I think also don't have the very best political or diplomatic relationships. But football makes miracles, as we know."