2026 FIFA World Cup

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2026 FIFA World Cup
Tournament details
Host country TBA
Teams 48 (from 6 confederations)
2022
2030

The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be the 23rd FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international men's football championship contested by the national teams of the member associations of FIFA.

The bidding process was due to start in 2015, with the appointment of hosts previously scheduled for the FIFA Congress on 10 May 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.[1][2] On 10 June 2015, it was announced the bidding process has been postponed, and the bidding process resumed in 2016,[3] amid corruption allegations around the previous tournaments, due to be held in 2018 (Russia), as well as in 2022 (Qatar).[4][5]

The tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams, after FIFA approved expansion from 32 teams in January 2017.[6]

Format

Then-UEFA head Michel Platini had suggested in January 2015 an expansion of the tournament to 40 teams,[7][8] an idea FIFA president Gianni Infantino also suggested in March 2016.[9] A desire to increase the number of participants in the tournament from the previous 32 team format was announced on 4 October 2016. Four expansion options were considered:[10][11][12][13]

  • Expand to 40 teams (8 groups of 5 teams) – 88 matches
  • Expand to 40 teams (10 groups of 4 teams) – 76 matches
  • Expand to 48 teams (opening 32-team playoff round) – 80 matches
  • Expand to 48 teams (16 groups of 3 teams) – 80 matches

On 10 January 2017, the FIFA Council voted unanimously to expand to a 48 team tournament.[6]

The tournament will open with a group stage consisting of 16 groups of three teams, with the top two teams progressing from each group to a knockout tournament starting with a round of 32 teams.[14] The number of games played overall will increase from 64 to 80, but the number of games played by finalists remains at seven, the same as with 32 teams, except that one group match will be replaced by a knockout match. The tournament will also be completed within 32 days, same as previous 32-team tournaments.[15]

The proposal for expansion was opposed by the European Clubs Association and its member clubs, saying that the number of games was already at an "unacceptable" level and they urged the governing body to reconsider its idea of increasing the number of teams that qualify.[16] German national team coach Joachim Löw warned that expansion, as had occurred for Euro 2016, would dilute the value of the world tournament because players have already reached their physical and mental limit.[17] Another criticism of the new format is that with 3-team groups, the risk of collusion between the two teams playing in the last round will increase compared with 4-team groups (where simultaneous kick-offs have been employed). One suggestion by President Infantino is that group matches that end in draws will be decided by penalty shootouts.[18]

Slot allocation

On 30 March 2017, the Bureau of the FIFA Council (composed of the FIFA President and the presidents of each of the six confederations) proposed a slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The recommendation will be submitted for the ratification of the FIFA Council, whose next meeting is scheduled for 9 May 2017 in Manama, Bahrain, two days before the 67th FIFA Congress.[19][20]

On 9 May 2017, the FIFA Council approved the slot allocation. It includes an intercontinental play-off tournament involving six teams to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths.[21]

Confederation Total members in confederation Percentage of members with places in finals Total places in finals
(including host)
Total places before 2026
(excluding host, including half-places)
AFC 47 17% 8 4.5
CAF 56 16% 9 5
CONCACAF 41 15% 6 3.5
CONMEBOL 10 60% 6 4.5
OFC 11 10% 1 0.5
UEFA 55 30% 16 13
Play-Off 2 -
Total 220 22% 48 31 (+ host)

For 2026, the slot of the host country will be taken from the quota of its confederation. In case of co-hosting, the number of automatically qualified host countries will be decided by the FIFA Council.[19][21]

Play-off tournament

A play-off tournament involving six teams will be held to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths,[19] consisting of one team per confederation (except for UEFA) and one additional team from the confederation of the host country.

Two of the teams will be seeded based on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, and the seeded teams will play for a FIFA World Cup berth against the winners of the first two knockout games involving the four unseeded teams.

The tournament is to be played in the host country(ies) and to be used as a test event for the FIFA World Cup. The existing play-off window of November 2025 has been suggested as a tentative date for the 2026 edition.

Host selection

Map of the World with the six confederations

The FIFA Council went back and forth between 2013 and 2017 on limitations within hosting rotation based on the continental confederations. Originally, it was set that bids to be host would not be allowed from countries belonging to confederations that hosted the two preceding tournaments. It was temporarily changed to only prohibit countries belonging to the confederation that hosted the previous World Cup from bidding to host the following tournament,[22] before the rule was changed back to its prior state of two World Cups. However the FIFA Council did make an exception to potentially grant eligibility to member associations of the confederation of the second-to-last host of the FIFA World Cup in the event that none of the received bids fulfill the strict technical and financial requirements.[23][24] In March 2017, FIFA president Gianni Infantino confirmed that "Europe (UEFA) and Asia (AFC) are excluded from the bidding following the selection of Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively."[25] Therefore, the 2026 World Cup will be hosted by one of the remaining four confederations: CONCACAF (last hosted in 1994), CAF (last hosted in 2010), CONMEBOL (last hosted in 2014), or OFC (never hosted before), or potentially by UEFA in case no bid from those four meets the requirements.

Co-hosting the FIFA World Cup — which had been banned by FIFA after the 2002 World Cup — was approved for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, though not limited to a specific number but instead evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Also by 2026, the FIFA general secretariat, after consultation with the Competitions Committee, will have the power to exclude bidders who do not meet the minimum technical requirements to host the competition.[23]

Bid process

Bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup was postponed due to the 2015 FIFA corruption case and the subsequent resignation of Sepp Blatter,[26] then it was restarted following the FIFA Council meeting on 10 May 2016, wherein the bidding process will consist of four phases:[3]

  • May 2016 – May 2017: a new strategy and consultation phase
  • June 2017 – Dec 2018: enhanced phases for bid preparation
  • January 2019 – February 2020: bid evaluation
  • May 2020: final decision

The consultation phase focused on four areas:

  • The inclusion of human rights requirements, sustainable event management, environmental protection in the bidding
  • Principle of exclusion of bidders that do not meet technical requirements
  • Review of the current stance on joint bids
  • Number of teams

Fast track bid process

With no rival bid having emerged since April 2017 the CONCACAF member federations of Canada, Mexico and the United States sent a joint request to FIFA to hasten the bid process. Canada, Mexico and the United States wanted FIFA to award the bid outside the traditional bidding process at the June 2018 FIFA Congress in Moscow if the CONCACAF-bid meets FIFA requirements.[27][28]

However the FIFA Council proposed on 8 May 2017 that FIFA shall establish a bidding procedure inviting initially only the member associations of CAF, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the OFC - continental confederations whose members have not hosted the two previous World Cups - as candidates to submit to FIFA bids to host the final competition of the 2026 FIFA World Cup by 11 August 2017. The 68th FIFA Congress will decide on the selection of the candidate host associations.[21]

On 11 May 2017, the 67th FIFA Congress voted on the FIFA Council proposal to the fast-track the 2026 FIFA World Cup bid process and set the following deadlines:[29][30][31]

  • 11 August 2017: any other nations interested in bidding have to express interest
  • March 2018: bidders must meet a list of FIFA's technical specifications
  • 13 June 2018: the 68th FIFA Congress will select the official bidder

Bid requirements

Endorsement of a set of principles submitted by the FIFA administration as part of the process to select the host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup, including an overview of the content to be requested from bidding member associations and high-level hosting requirements. These include: stadium and infrastructure requirements; principles of sustainable event management, human rights and environmental protection; and details on aspects such as governmental support documents, the organisational model to be adopted and provisions for the establishment of a legacy fund. A complete version of the bid requirements will eventually be dispatched to member associations that register to take part in the process.[21]

Official bids

Under FIFA rules as of 2017, the 2026 Cup cannot be in either Europe (UEFA) or Asia (AFC),[24][32] leaving an African (CAF) bid, a North American (CONCACAF) bid, a South American (CONMEBOL) bid, or an Oceania (OFC) bid as other possible options.[33] In March 2017, FIFA confirmed that "Europe (UEFA) and Asia (AFC) are excluded from the bidding following the selection of Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively."[25]

CONCACAF

Following rumors on each nation bidding individually, the three nations announced on 10 April 2017 a bid to host the games jointly.[34][35] Canada and Mexico would host 10 games each, while the United States would host the remaining 60 games, including all matches from the Quarterfinals on.
This would be the first FIFA World Cup held in three countries, the first World Cup held in Canada, the second World Cup held in the United States, and the third World Cup held in Mexico (making Mexico the first nation to host three World Cups, after the 1970 and 1986 World Cups).
There are some concerns with Canada's lack of natural grass in stadiums that could host the games. Also, there are some concerns with Mexico's high crime rate.[36][37]

Confirmed interest in bidding

CONMEBOL

In March 2010, then-Colombian president Álvaro Uribe confirmed plans for a Colombian bid.[38] At the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup final, then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter said "Colombia is ready for a World Cup".[39] Colombia was chosen to host the 1986 FIFA World Cup in 1974, but due to financial problems, was later awarded to Mexico in 1983. The country has since hosted the 2011 Under-20 World Cup, World Games 2013 and the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup. In July 2010, Peru also suggested co-hosting with Colombia and Ecuador, and President Uribe reacted positively, saying "every positive proposition has to be welcomed."[40][41] The bid would also form part of the country's National Development Plan.[42] On 8 March 2015, Senator Jorge Espinoza called on President Juan Manuel Santos to begin a "diplomatic offensive" for the bidding process for their right to host the 2026 edition.[43]

Potential bids

AFC/OFC

AFC member federations will be able to bid to host the 2026 World Cup only if none of the eligible candidates are able to fulfil the necessary criteria.[24] OFC member federations do not face the same restriction, but it is not clear how joint bids involving both AFC and OFC countries would be received.

On 13 April 2015, former New Zealand Cricket CEO and head of the Tourism Industry Association NZ, Martin Snedden proposed a possible New Zealand and Australia joint bid for either the 2026 or 2030 FIFA World Cup. Australia had also unsuccessfully bid for the 2022 World Cup.
Snedden's vision was for both the Asian Football Confederation and Oceania Football Confederation working together to achieve the event. Snedden recognized there would be plenty of hurdles to leap. On the idea of a potential bid, New Zealand's then-Prime Minister John Key said the decision on such a bid would be "a long way away".[44] However, Football Federation Australia promptly dismissed the idea of a joint bid, saying Australia was not currently interested in bidding. Nonetheless, conversations with the New Zealand government would continue.[45]

CAF

Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports, Moncef Belkhayat, said to the French daily Le Figaro: "The African Cup of Nations 2015 will be the first indicator of our ability to host a great event. Then we can confidently consider us as a candidate to host the World Cup 2026".[46][47] However, in November 2014, Morocco refused to host the African Cup of Nations due to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Morocco lost bids to host the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2010 to the United States, France, Germany, and South Africa respectively.

CONMEBOL

On 20 June 2017, Football Federation of Chile President, Arturo Salah, admitted that he is interested in a bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Salah also declared that Chile needs to make an alliance with a neighbour country, possibly Argentina or Peru.[48]

UEFA

UEFA member federations will be able to bid to host the 2026 World Cup only if none of the eligible candidates are able to fulfil the necessary criteria.[24]

On 22 May 2012, Azerbaijan Minister of Sports Azad Rahimov proposed a joint bid from Turkey and Azerbaijan for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.[49]
On 24 March 2015, Football Association (FA) then-chairman Greg Dyke announced a possible bid for the 2026 World Cup, however this was dependant on whether Sepp Blatter remained the chairman of FIFA. Dyke declared that "we don't bid while Mr Blatter's there." This is due to England losing out to Russia for the right to host the 2018 World Cup, in what Dyke called a corrupt bidding process, stating that "I don't think it [FIFA] is a straight organisation and hasn't been for many years." England last hosted the 1966 World Cup, and were unsuccessful in host bids for the 1990, 1998, 2006 and 2018 contests.
On 13 December 2014, Mayor of Astana Adilbek Zhaksybekov announced a possible bid from Kazakhstan.[50][51] Football Federation of Kazakhstan president Yerlan Kozhagapanov stated the government plans to bid for the 2026 World Cup.[52]

Broadcasting rights

FIFA has come in for criticism for the way Fox was awarded the rights: there was no tender process, the network receiving the rights in order to placate it regarding the move of the 2022 World Cup (which it has the rights to) from summer to winter time, during the last few weeks of the National Football League regular season. Due to the lack of a tender, FIFA lost revenue. According to the BBC's sports editor Dan Roan, "As ever, it seemed, FIFA was looking after itself."[56]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "2022 FIFA World Cup to be played in November/December". FIFA.com. 20 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "FIFA defers decision on continental rotation for WCup bids". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. 25 May 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "FIFA Council agrees on four-phase bidding process for 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA.com. 10 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Fifa 2026 World Cup bidding process delayed". BBC News. 10 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "FIFA Statement on 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding". FIFA.com. 10 June 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Unanimous decision expands FIFA World Cup™ to 48 teams from 2026". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 10 January 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "Michel Platini calls for 40-team World Cup starting with Russia 2018". The Guardian. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  8. ^ "BBC Sport — Michel Platini's World Cup expansion plan unlikely — Fifa". BBC Sport. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Infantino suggests 40-team World Cup finals". IOL.co.za. IOL. Reuters. 30 March 2016. 
  10. ^ "New Fifa chief backs 48-team World Cup". HeraldLIVE. 7 October 2016. It's an idea, just as the World Cup with 40 teams is already on the table with groups of four or five teams. 
  11. ^ "Fifa's 5 options for a 2026 World Cup of 48, 40 or 32 teams". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. 23 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "FIFA World Cup format proposals" (PDF). FIFA.com. 19 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Federations 'overwhelmingly in favour' of 48-team World Cup - Infantino". ESPN.com. 28 December 2016. 
  14. ^ "Fifa approves Infantino's plan to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "World Cup: Gianni Infantino defends tournament expansion to 48 teams". BBC Sport. 10 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "World Cup: Europe's top clubs oppose FIFA's expansion plans". CNN. 15 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Low confirms opposition to 40-team World Cup". sbs.com.au. Australian Associated Press. 2 October 2016. 
  18. ^ George Flood (10 January 2017). "How 48-team World Cup in 2026 will work and what is left to be decided". International Business Times. 
  19. ^ a b c "Bureau of the Council recommends slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA. 30 March 2017. 
  20. ^ "World Cup 2026: Fifa reveals allocation for 48-team tournament". BBC. 30 March 2017. 
  21. ^ a b c d "FIFA Council prepares Congress, takes key decisions for the future of the FIFA World Cup™". FIFA. 9 May 2017. 
  22. ^ "Current allocation of FIFA World Cup™ confederation slots maintained". FIFA.com. 30 May 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "FIFA Council discusses vision for the future of football". FIFA.com. 14 October 2016. 
  24. ^ a b c d "FIFA blocks Europe from hosting 2026 World Cup, lifting Canada's chances". CBC. Associated Press. 14 October 2016. 
  25. ^ a b "Trump travel ban could prevent United States hosting World Cup". The Guardian. 9 March 2017. 
  26. ^ "Scandal-plagued FIFA postpones 2026 World Cup bidding". ABC News. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  27. ^ "CONCACAF to ask FIFA to fast-track U.S.-led 2026 World Cup bid -- sources". 11 April 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  28. ^ "FIFA Council set to back North American 2026 World Cup bid". Reuters. 8 May 2017. 
  29. ^ "FIFA Congress confirms next steps of the bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA. 11 May 2017. 
  30. ^ "Fifa votes overwhelmingly to fast-track 2026 World Cup bid process". The Guardian. 11 May 2017. 
  31. ^ "FIFA approves plan to fast-track 2026 World Cup host bidding process". ESPN. 11 May 2017. 
  32. ^ Gastelum, Andrew. "CONCACAF president is pushing hard to land 2026 World Cup". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  33. ^ "No Rest For The Curious: Looking Ahead To World Cup 2026". World Cup Blog. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  34. ^ Staff, SI.com. "USA, Mexico, Canada announce bid to host '26 WC". 
  35. ^ "U.S., Mexico and Canada officially launch bid to co-host 2026 World Cup". 
  36. ^ Bidding War: 2026 World Cup — Soccer — The Sports Quotient
  37. ^ Larson, Kurt (10 April 2017). "Canada, U.S. and Mexico bidding for 2026 World Cup". canoe.com. Retrieved 11 April 2017. 
  38. ^ "Colombia quiere organizar un Mundial" [Colombia wants to organize a World Cup] (in Spanish). Infobae. 20 March 2010. 
  39. ^ "Colombia está preparada para una Copa Mundial de mayores, dijo Blatter" [Colombia is ready for a major World Cup, Blatter says] (in Spanish). El Comercio. 19 August 2011. 
  40. ^ Roorda, Jonathan (14 July 2010). "Peru wants to host World Cup with Colombia and Ecuador". Colombia Reports. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  41. ^ "Peru aims to co-host 2026 World Cup with Ecuador, Colombia". Andina. 13 July 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  42. ^ "Presentan en el Senado propuesta para que Colombia sea sede del Mundial 2026" [Proposal for Colombia to host the 2026 World Cup presented in the Senate] (in Spanish). El País (Cali). 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  43. ^ "Colombian senator calls on country to step up campaign for 2026 World Cup". Business News Americas. 6 March 2015. 
  44. ^ "NZ's plan to host a FIFA World Cup (with Oz!)". socceroos.com.au. Football Federation Australia. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  45. ^ "Australians not interested in FIFA World Cup bid". Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  46. ^ Guillaume Errard (24 March 2011). "Le Maroc veut organiser la Coupe du monde en 2026" [Morocco to host the World Cup in 2026]. Le Figaro. 
  47. ^ Hamad Mousa (5 September 2013). "المغرب يترشح لتنظيم مونديال 2026" [Morocco candidate for organizing the 2026 World Cup] (in Arabic). Eurosport. 
  48. ^ Poblete, Álvaro (20 June 2017). "Salah: “He pensado la posibilidad de postular al Mundial de 2026”" [Salah: "I've thought about the possibility to postulate to the 2026 World Cup"] (in Spanish). Moscow: La Tercera. Retrieved 21 June 2017. 
  49. ^ "2026 Dünya Kupası için Türkiye-Azerbaycan!" [Turkey-Azerbaijan for the 2026 World Cup!] (in Turkish). ntv.com.tr. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  50. ^ "Kazajistán quiere albergar el Mundial de 2026". Sport.es. DPA. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  51. ^ "Kazakhstan eyes bid for 2026 World Cup". menafn.com. Saudi Press Agency. 14 December 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  52. ^ "Kazakhstan considering bid to host 2026 World Cup". ESPN FC. PA Sport. 31 March 2015. 
  53. ^ Sandomir, Richard (12 February 2015). "Fox and Telemundo to Show World Cup Through 2026 as FIFA Extends Contracts"". The New York Times. 
  54. ^ "FIFA extending TV deals through 2026 World Cup with CTV, TSN and RDS". The Globe and Mail. 12 February 2015. 
  55. ^ Parker, Ryan. "2026 World Cup TV rights awarded without bids; ESPN 'surprised'". Los Angeles Times. 13 February 2015.
  56. ^ "Qatar 2022: World Cup fall-out could tear football apart". BBC. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
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