2026 FIFA World Cup

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2026 FIFA World Cup
Tournament details
Teams 48 (from 6 confederations)

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.

Two official bids to host the event were submitted to FIFA: a joint bid by Canada, Mexico and the United States, and a bid by Morocco. On 13 June 2018, the 68th FIFA Congress in Moscow, Russia will decide on whether to select one of those bids, and on that day, the host will be announced.[1]

The tournament will be the first to feature 48 teams, after FIFA approved expansion from 32 teams.[2]


Then-UEFA head Michel Platini had suggested in January 2015 an expansion of the tournament to 40 teams,[3][4] an idea which FIFA president Gianni Infantino also suggested in March 2016.[5] 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:[6][7][8][9]

  • 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.[2]

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.[10] 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.[11]

The European Clubs Association and its member clubs opposed the proposal for expansion, 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.[12] They contended that it was a decision taken for political reasons, because Infantino would thus satisfy his electorate, rather than for sporting reasons.[13] Liga de Fútbol Profesional president Javier Tebas agreed, affirming the unacceptability of the new method. He told Marca that the football industry is maintained thanks to clubs and leagues, not FIFA, and that Infantino did politics because to be elected he promised more countries in the World Cup; he wanted to keep the electoral promises.[14] 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,[15] 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.[16]

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 was submitted for the ratification by the FIFA Council.[17][18]

On 9 May 2017, two days before the 67th FIFA Congress, the FIFA Council approved the slot allocation in a meeting in Manama, Bahrain. It includes an intercontinental play-off tournament involving six teams to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths.[19]

Confederation Total FIFA eligible members Total places in finals
(including host)
Percentage of members with places in finals Total places before 2026
(excluding host, including half-places)
AFC 46 8 17% 4.5
CAF 54 9 17% 5
CONCACAF 35 6 17% 3.5
CONMEBOL 10 6 60% 4.5
OFC 11 1 9% 0.5
UEFA 55 16 29% 13
Play-Off 2 -
Total 211 48 23% 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.[17][19]

Play-off tournament

A play-off tournament involving six teams will be held to decide the last two FIFA World Cup berths,[17] 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 World Rankings, 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,[20] 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.[21][22] 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."[23] Therefore, the 2026 World Cup could 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 met 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.[21]

Bid process

The bidding process was due to start in 2015, with the appointment of hosts scheduled for the FIFA Congress on 10 May 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,[24][25] but was postponed due to the 2015 FIFA corruption case and the subsequent resignation of Sepp Blatter,[26] and resumed following the FIFA Council meeting on 10 May 2016,[27] amid corruption allegations around the previous tournaments, due to be held in 2018 (Russia), as well as in 2022 (Qatar).[28][29]

The bidding process originally consisted of four phases:[27]

  • May 2016 – May 2017: a new strategy and consultation phase
  • June 2017 – December 2017: enhanced phases for bid preparation
  • March 2018 – June 2018: bid evaluation
  • June 2018: 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

On 7 November 2017, FIFA published a guide to bidding process. It outlines the key elements of the reformed bidding process, the assessment mechanisms in place, recommendations on the protection of the process’ integrity, the timeline for the selection of the host(s), the specific requirements for hosting, a detailed explanation of the government guarantees, as well as the principles of sustainable event management and human rights protection.[30][31]

Bid Evaluation Task Force

On 27 October 2017, the FIFA Council ratified the decision of the Bureau of the Council of 6 September 2017 to approve the enhanced Bidding Regulations for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. It also appointed the members of the Bid Evaluation Task Force.[32] According to the Bidding Regulations[33][34][35], the Task Force is expected to be composed by:

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.[36][37]

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.[19]

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:[1][38][39]

  • 11 August 2017: any other nations interested in bidding have to express interest
  • 16 March 2018: bidders must meet a list of FIFA's technical specifications, and bids must be officially submitted by then
  • 13 June 2018: the 68th FIFA Congress will decide on whether to select one of the official bids. Should neither be selected, further member associations, including those from AFC and UEFA and excluding the initial bidders, will be invited to bid.

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.[19][31]

Stadiums requirements

FIFA have established minimum requirements for stadiums capacities.[31]

Matches Stadium capacities
Opening match 80,000
Remaining group stage matches 40,000
Round of 32 40,000
Round of 16 40,000
Quarterfinals 40,000
Semifinals 60,000
Third place play-off 40,000
Final 80,000

Team & referee facilities

FIFA established minimum requirements for team and referee facilities.[31]

Facilities Number
Team base camp training Sites 48 (with 72 proposals)
Team base camp hotels 48 (with 72 proposals)
Venue-specific training sites 2–4 per stadium (with 4 proposals per stadium)
Venue-specific team hotels 2–4 per stadium (with 4 proposals per stadium)
Referee base camp training sites 1 (with 2 proposed)
Referee base camp hotels 1 (with 2 proposed)

Official bids

Under FIFA rules as of 2017, the 2026 Cup cannot be in either Europe (UEFA) or Asia (AFC),[22][40] leaving an African (CAF) bid, a North American (CONCACAF) bid, a South American (CONMEBOL) bid, or an Oceania (OFC) bid as the only possible options.[41] 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."[23]


  •  Morocco
Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports, Moncef Belkhayat, told 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".[42][43] However, in November 2014, Morocco asked to postpone the African Cup of Nations to summer due to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa and lost its hosting rights to Equatorial Guinea.[44]
Morocco lost bids to host the World Cup in 1994, 1998, 2006, and 2010 to the United States, France, Germany, and South Africa, respectively.
Morocco successfully hosted the 2013 and 2014 editions of the FIFA Club World Cup and the 2018 African Nations Championship.
On 11 August 2017, Morocco officially announced a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.[45]
If successful, it will be the second African country, after the 2010 tournament in South Africa, as well as the second Arab and Muslim country after the 2022 tournament in Qatar, also the first time in North Africa.[46]


 Canada /  Mexico /  United States

Following rumors on each nation bidding individually, the three nations announced on 10 April 2017 a bid to host the World Cup jointly.[47][48] However, Canada and Mexico would only host 10 games each, while the United States would host the remaining 60 games, including all remaining matches once the tournament reaches the quarterfinals.[citation needed]
If successful, it will 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).

Broadcasting rights

FIFA's awarding of rights to Fox has been criticized for its lack of tender process, having been done in order to placate Fox regarding the move of the 2022 World Cup (which it has the rights to) from summer in the United States to winter (21 November – 18 December), during 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."[52]

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b "FIFA Congress confirms next steps of the bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA. 11 May 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Unanimous decision expands FIFA World Cup™ to 48 teams from 2026". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "Michel Platini calls for 40-team World Cup starting with Russia 2018". The Guardian. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "BBC Sport — Michel Platini's World Cup expansion plan unlikely — Fifa". BBC Sport. 29 October 2013. Archived from the original on 21 April 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  5. ^ "Infantino suggests 40-team World Cup finals". IOL.co.za. IOL. Reuters. 30 March 2016. Archived from the original on 30 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "New Fifa chief backs 48-team World Cup". HeraldLIVE. 7 October 2016. Archived from the original on 10 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. 
  7. ^ "Fifa's 5 options for a 2026 World Cup of 48, 40 or 32 teams". Yahoo! Sports. Associated Press. 23 December 2016. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "FIFA World Cup format proposals" (PDF). FIFA.com. 19 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Federations 'overwhelmingly in favour' of 48-team World Cup - Infantino". ESPN.com. 28 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Fifa approves Infantino's plan to expand World Cup to 48 teams from 2026". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved 10 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "World Cup: Gianni Infantino defends tournament expansion to 48 teams". BBC Sport. 10 January 2017. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. 
  12. ^ "World Cup: Europe's top clubs oppose FIFA's expansion plans". CNN. 15 December 2016. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "Críticas a decisión de la FIFA de jugar el Mundial 2026 con 48 selecciones". El Universo (in Spanish). Agence France-Presse. 10 January 2017. Archived from the original on 12 January 2017. 
  14. ^ "Mundial de 48 equipos: durísimas críticas en Europa". Clarín (in Spanish). 10 January 2017. Archived from the original on 12 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Low confirms opposition to 40-team World Cup". sbs.com.au. Australian Associated Press. 2 October 2016. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. 
  16. ^ George Flood (10 January 2017). "How 48-team World Cup in 2026 will work and what is left to be decided". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 11 January 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c "Bureau of the Council recommends slot allocation for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA. 30 March 2017. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. 
  18. ^ "World Cup 2026: Fifa reveals allocation for 48-team tournament". BBC. 30 March 2017. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. 
  19. ^ a b c d "FIFA Council prepares Congress, takes key decisions for the future of the FIFA World Cup™". FIFA. 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. 
  20. ^ "Current allocation of FIFA World Cup™ confederation slots maintained". FIFA.com. 30 May 2015. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. 
  21. ^ a b "FIFA Council discusses vision for the future of football". FIFA.com. 14 October 2016. Archived from the original on 17 October 2016. 
  22. ^ a b "FIFA blocks Europe from hosting 2026 World Cup, lifting Canada's chances". CBC. Associated Press. 14 October 2016. Archived from the original on 14 October 2016. 
  23. ^ a b "Trump travel ban could prevent United States hosting World Cup". The Guardian. 9 March 2017. 
  24. ^ "2022 FIFA World Cup to be played in November/December". FIFA.com. 20 March 2015. Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. 
  25. ^ "FIFA defers decision on continental rotation for WCup bids". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. 25 May 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. 
  26. ^ "Scandal-plagued FIFA postpones 2026 World Cup bidding". ABC News. Archived from the original on 11 June 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2015. 
  27. ^ a b "FIFA Council agrees on four-phase bidding process for 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA.com. 10 May 2016. Archived from the original on 10 May 2016. 
  28. ^ "Fifa 2026 World Cup bidding process delayed". BBC News. 10 June 2015. Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. 
  29. ^ "FIFA Statement on 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding". FIFA.com. 10 June 2015. Archived from the original on 22 November 2015. 
  30. ^ "FIFA publishes guide to bidding process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup". FIFA.com. 7 November 2017. 
  32. ^ "FIFA Council approves key organisational elements of the FIFA World Cup". FIFA.com. 27 October 2017. 
  34. ^ "Overview of Government Guarantees and the Government Declaration" (PDF). 
  36. ^ "CONCACAF to ask FIFA to fast-track U.S.-led 2026 World Cup bid -- sources". 11 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 May 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017. 
  37. ^ "FIFA Council set to back North American 2026 World Cup bid". Reuters. 8 May 2017. 
  38. ^ "Fifa votes overwhelmingly to fast-track 2026 World Cup bid process". The Guardian. 11 May 2017. Archived from the original on 12 May 2017. 
  39. ^ "FIFA approves plan to fast-track 2026 World Cup host bidding process". ESPN. 11 May 2017. 
  40. ^ Gastelum, Andrew. "CONCACAF president is pushing hard to land 2026 World Cup". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2013. 
  41. ^ "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. 
  42. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. 
  43. ^ Hamad Mousa (5 September 2013). "المغرب يترشح لتنظيم مونديال 2026" [Morocco candidate for organizing the 2026 World Cup] (in Arabic). Eurosport. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. 
  44. ^ "Equatorial Guinea selected as new hosts for 2015 Africa Cup of Nations". 
  45. ^ "Le Maroc dépose officiellement sa candidature pour le Mondial 2026". Le360. 11 August 2017. 
  46. ^ "World Cup 2026: Morocco confirms it will bid to host tournament". BBC Sport. 12 August 2017. 
  47. ^ Staff, SI.com. "USA, Mexico, Canada announce bid to host '26 WC". Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. 
  48. ^ "U.S., Mexico and Canada officially launch bid to co-host 2026 World Cup". Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. 
  49. ^ Sandomir, Richard (12 February 2015). "Fox and Telemundo to Show World Cup Through 2026 as FIFA Extends Contracts"". The New York Times. 
  50. ^ "FIFA extending TV deals through 2026 World Cup with CTV, TSN and RDS". The Globe and Mail. 12 February 2015. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. 
  51. ^ Parker, Ryan. "2026 World Cup TV rights awarded without bids; ESPN 'surprised'" Archived 3 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. Los Angeles Times. 13 February 2015.
  52. ^ "Qatar 2022: World Cup fall-out could tear football apart". BBC. Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
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