FIFA to expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2026

  • Get News Alerts

FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament which is likely to be held in North America.

President Gianni Infantino's favored plan — for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 — was unanimously approved Tuesday by the FIFA Council.

It meets Infantino's election pledge of a bigger World Cup, and should help fund promised raises for FIFA's 211 member federations.

With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts the equivalent of $1 billion extra income at current rates from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion revenue forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

FIFA projects an increased profit of $640 million despite some extra operating costs and prize money for teams.

FIFA's six continents should find out by May how many extra places they will each get.

UEFA wants 16 European teams at the tournament, which is strongly favored to be played in North America. The CONCACAF region has not hosted the World Cup since the 1994 tournament in the United States.

American, Canadian and Mexican soccer leaders have had informal talks about a co-hosting bid.

Africa and Asia could be winners in a bigger World Cup with up to nine places each. They had only five and four teams, respectively, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Still, FIFA said it expects the standard of soccer to drop compared to the 32-team format locked in for the next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar.

The "absolute quality" of play, defined by high-ranked teams facing each other most often, is achieved by 32 teams, FIFA acknowledged in a research document sent to members last month. It made 10,000 tournament simulations to reach that conclusion.

Instead, Infantino wants to create fervor and months of anticipation back home in the 16 extra nations which would qualify, some probably making their World Cup debut. FIFA has pointed to Costa Rica, Wales and Iceland as examples of teams which overachieved at recent tournaments.

FIFA must break with soccer tradition to make its new format work after an original 48-team plan — with an opening playoff round sending 16 "one-and-done" teams home early — was unpopular.

Instead, three-team groups will replace the usual groups of four to create simple progress to a knockout bracket. However, it leaves one team idle for final group games and could risk collusion between the other two teams.

FIFA said it could guard against result-rigging by introducing penalty shootouts after group games that end in draws.

Despite the 16 extra games, FIFA believes the current maximum of stadiums needed will stay at the 12 used by Brazil and Russia. However, the demand for more training bases and hotels means developed countries would be better equipped to win future hosting contests.

North America is the strong favorite for 2026 because European and Asian countries are blocked by a FIFA rule excluding continents which hosted either of the two previous tournaments. Russia will host the World Cup next year and Qatar in 2022.

South America has been focused on a centenary tournament including original 1930 host Uruguay, and African nations are seen as lacking existing capacity and unlikely to fund multi-billion dollar infrastructure spending.

Comments

More News

  • Spanish state prosecutor accuses Ronaldo of tax fraud

    Spanish state prosecutor accuses Ronaldo of tax fraud A Spanish state prosecutor accused Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo of defrauding Spain’s tax office of 14.7 million euros ($16.5 million) in unpaid taxes on Tuesday. In a statement, Madrid’s regional state prosecutor accused Ronaldo of four accounts of tax fraud from 2011-14.

  • AFC Asian Cup Qualifier: Nepal facing Yemen tomorrow

    As Nepal takes on Yemen at the Halchowk-based Armed PoliceForce (APF) ground for a match to be held under the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualification round tomorrow, Nepali team head coach Koji Gyotoku is hopeful that the team would give an outstanding performance.

  • Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest

    Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest Woods, a 14-time major champion who ranks No. 2 in PGA Tour history with 79 victories, has not played golf for four months. He had a fourth back surgery on April 20, and just five days ago reported on his website that the fusion surgery brought instant relief from pain and that he “hasn’t felt better in years.”

  • Messi loses Supreme Court appeal over tax-fraud conviction

    Messi loses Supreme Court appeal over tax-fraud conviction Lionel Messi has lost his Supreme Court appeal over a tax-fraud conviction in Spain. The court confirmed the 21-month prison sentence handed to Messi for defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. He is not expected to go to prison because sentences of less than two years for first offenses are usually suspended in Spain.

  • Nepal defeated by Malaysia in friendly football match

    Nepal's national women's football team has conceded a defeat to the Malaysian women's team in a friendly match played between the two countries in Malaysia today noon. In the match held at Likas Stadium in Kota Kinabalu, the Malaysian team defeated Nepal 4-1.

Opinion

  • RJP's suicidal move RJP's suicidal move

    Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJP) has announced protest programs including general strike to disrupt the upcoming second round of local election. Formation of RJP with merger of six Madhes-based parties had sent a positive message both to the plains and the hills.

    Editorial

  • Maoist commitment torn in Bharatpur Maoist commitment torn in Bharatpur

    There is no confusion about who tore the ballots in Bharatpur. Nepal Police under Prime Minister (PM) Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi has already revealed that Maoist cadres, who tore the ballots, have been arrested. The only remaining questions are why CPN (Maoist Center) tore the ballots and what happens next.

    Editorial

Blog

  • Why shy away? Why shy away?

    People (specifically men) urinate in public, smoke openly, get drunk in public places, and they just get away with it. Isn't it a bizarre world where all of these things can actually happen openly and girls have to feel ashamed about the most natural phenomenon?

    Bibhu Thapaliya Shrestha

  • Staying true to our environmental roots Staying true to our environmental roots

    Although we had so important practise why did we miss to internalize it? AGIL paradigm is the best way which helps us understand why we failed. The AGIL paradigm is a sociological scheme created by American sociologist Talcott Parsons in the 1950s. It is a systematic depiction of certain societal functions, which every society must meet to be able to maintain stable social life.

    Sanjay Adhikari

Readers Column

  • Traffic Police in Kathmandu

    As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.

  • Menstrual taboo outdated

    I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.

Popular

Recommended

Suchanapati