The idea has been in the works for some time, although it was not expected to bear fruition until 2026, when the United States, Canada and Mexico host the competition.

Nonetheless, AFP quotes FIFA President Gianni Infantino as saying at a Press conference: “You have in front of you a happy FIFA President.

“I am always happy but especially today because we have taken some important decisions.

“We came to conclusion, yes it’s feasible to move from 32 to 48 teams at the World Cup provided certain conditions are met.

“Since we decided in January 2017 that we should increase teams in 2026, and following a request from the 10 South American associations whether it is feasible to do this for 2022.

“We have the duty to look into it, 90 percent are in favour of an increase but it's not as easy as that. We have to analyse matters carefully and we are working closely with Qatar.”

Qatar’s cause is not helped by diplomatic disputes with several of its Arab neighbours, while many have argued that a bigger World Cup would dilute the tournament’s quality…

"We know the situation in the Gulf region,” assured the Swiss-Italian.

“We are in the lucky position of being in football, and that means you can only care about football.

“I was pleased with the reaction of the Qataris. We don't want to regret not analysing the decision.

“The more the merrier.”

The final decision on a 48-nation World Cup in Qatar will arrive in June.