Soccer

FIFA delays talks on possible 48-team Qatar World Cup

Talks on exploring a 48-team World Cup in 2022 have been taken off the agenda at FIFA's annual congress.

Adding 16 teams to 2022 tournament could result in shared hosting duties

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, right, seen in this file photo from April with president of Qatar Football Association Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, is enthusiastic about expanding Qatar's 2022 World Cup to 48 teams. (EPA)

Talks on exploring a 48-team World Cup in 2022 have been taken off the agenda at FIFA's annual congress.

FIFA says a request to start a feasibility study into adding 16 teams to the Qatar-hosted tournament has been withdrawn by South American body CONMEBOL.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino says his staff will continue talks with Qatar about potential expansion.

Infantino has been enthusiastic about seeking agreement for an expanded event.

A 48-team World Cup would require extra stadiums and could lead to Qatar sharing hosting duties with Middle East neighbours.

Qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup are likely to begin in early 2019.

Overhauling team rankings 

FIFA's quirky rankings system to rate 211 men's national teams and decide seeding in World Cup draws is getting a reboot.

FIFA says it approved a new formula which rewards teams for playing more games, and it takes effect in the post-World Cup ranking on July 19.

The new formula is "eliminating the potential for ranking manipulation." The current system in place since 1993 lets teams boost their status by avoiding friendly games.

Now, teams will gain or lose points from their existing points total with each result. More weight will be given to competitive games over friendlies.

Germany is the top-ranked team when the World Cup kicks off Thursday in Moscow.

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