As 2026 approaches, FIFA prepares for a 48-team World Cup

For the first time, the greatest football tournament will be held in three host nations: the United States, Canada, and Mexico. There will be 48 teams, three host nations, and potentially more than 100 games. FIFA is getting ready to host the largest World Cup ever after hosting the smallest one with success.

After the World Cup final on Sunday had finished, everyone’s attention turned to the enormous number of 2026. The greatest football tournament will be held in three host nations for the first time: the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The tournament will include 48 teams, up from the current 32-team format that has been in place since 1998. This is double the number of teams that participated in the previous World Cup that was held in the United States or Mexico.

After taking over as world football’s supreme in 2016, FIFA president Gianni Infantino made expanding the World Cup a priority. The expanded competition is a success for him.

The World Cup’s biggest expansion comes from the addition of 16 teams.
From 13 teams at the first tournament in 1930 to 16 teams from 1934 to 1978, the finals grew to 24 teams in 1982.

Africa and Asia will benefit most from the expansion to 48 teams.
Africa will have nine qualifying slots for the finals under the new format, up from five previously, and Asia will nearly double to eight (from 4.5 slots).

Oceania, which has traditionally been required to compete in a playoff for a World Cup spot, will receive an automatic qualification slot.

“For us Africans, it’s heaven-sent,” Sunday Oliseh said of the “heaven-sent” opportunity.
My nation is home to 200 million people.
Some of the major players in the region welcome the increased African presence. During the qualifiers, Egypt, Algeria, and Nigeria were all eliminated from the Qatar finals.

Europe’s number of teams will increase from 13 to 16, and South America’s number of qualifying spots will increase from 4.5 to 6.

CONCACAF will have a total of six teams from the region, with Canada, the United States, and Mexico qualifying as hosts.
By playoff, two more places will be decided.
It remains to be seen how this expansion will affect the tournament format.

At first, FIFA said it preferred 16 groups of three teams, with the top two teams from each group going on to a 32-team knockout stage.

However, the outcome of the four-team group’s first stage in Qatar – – were a few groups went down to the last second – – has provoked a reevaluate.

On Friday, Infantino disclosed to reporters that FIFA intends to “revisit” the three-team group format.
The likeliest 2026 situation is 12 groups of four, with the main two teams progressing to the knockout rounds alongside the eight best third-place finishers.

That configuration anyway would mean 104 matches – – up from the 64 in Qatar – – while a group arriving at the last would be expected to play eight games.

Profits will rise because there will be 16 venues for the finals, up from eight in Qatar.
There will be eleven venues in the United States, three in Mexico, and two in Canada.

The New York Giants’ 82,000-seat MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford and the $5 billion SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, where all of the US games are taking place, are expected to host the championship game.

The majority of games, including all knockout rounds matches, will be played in the United States.
FIFA is looking into placing the teams in regional clusters in order to cut down on travel given the tournament’s geographical spread.

According to Infantino, FIFA anticipates a significant increase in revenue from the expanded World Cup.

It is anticipated that revenues will rise to $11 billion in the four-year cycle ending in 2026, up from $7.5 billion in the cycle ending in 2022.

Infantino stated, “We are bullish about the power of football.” We are confident that the game will have a significant impact.

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