A final decision on the number of stadiums to be used at the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals will not be made this year, according to Fifa.
An official told AFP that the long-awaited announcement would instead be made in “due course” though not before the end of December, as had been previously expected.
“The final number of stadiums to be used for the 2022 Fifa World Cup is part of the overall ongoing infrastructure discussion and a decision will be taken in due course,” said the official.
Originally, a final decision on venue numbers — largely predicted to be eight, though the initial bid allowed for up to 12 — was expected to be taken by the end of 2015.
When that deadline passed it was expected the number would finally be announced this year.
Fifa though is thought to be still assessing several issues.
These include transport, the number of games to be played each day and the fact the tournament will take place over 28 days — shorter than normal — and its potential impact on pitches.
By comparison, Russia’s World Cup in 2018 will be held over 32 days in 12 different venues, the same as in Brazil in 2014.
Qatar’s tournament is more compact after it was decided to switch the finals to November/December 2022, over concerns about the Gulf state’s fierce summer temperatures.
If eight stadiums are used it will mean the 2022 finals will have the smallest number of venues at any tournament since Argentina in 1978.
Only six different stadiums were used then but only 16 nations qualified for that tournament.
In Qatar, 32 teams will take part.
Building work has begun on six of the venues in Qatar and the first stadium, Khalifa International, should be completed by the beginning of next year.
Construction on all stadiums should finish by 2020.
It is not clear how much cost is a factor in determining the final number of venues.
Qatar will spend up to $10 billion on stadium construction, the country’s most senior World Cup official Hassan al-Thawadi said earlier this year.
But aside from stadium costs, gas-rich Qatar is spending more than $200 billion on wider infrastructure requirements such as roads, a metro system and a new city.
Qatar though has been hit by the fall in global energy prices, seen job losses and will run its first government budget deficit for 15 years in 2016.
Further deficits are likely to follow in 2017 and 2018.
In an address earlier this week Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, said all World Cup 2022 infrastructure projects would be completed, but also called for the elimination of “extravagance and waste”.